Additional COVID-19 Guidance For Sports and Recreational Fitness Facilities
Speak with your area Public Health Inspector if you have any questions, or call our helpline at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.
*This information is subject to change and is current as of April 8, 2021
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The following guidance is intended to help with clarification of general public health measures as mandated in Ontario Regulation 263/20 Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and described in the COVID-19 Response Framework for sports and recreational fitness facilities.
This information on this page is applicable for the following types of indoor recreational facilities, such as: gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios, and other fitness facilities to ensure public safety.
To support safe operations in sports and recreational facilities, operators must also abide by:
- Sector-specific guidelines, guidance documents and relevant regulations such as Ontario Regulation 565: Public Pools (if applicable) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Additional guidelines provided by specific sport coordinating bodies.
Visit WECHU’s Local Pandemic Status page for updates on Windsor-Essex’s status level, links to provincial guidance, and a summary of current provincial requirements and local enhanced measures.
COVID-19 Response Framework Measures
- Maintain 2 metres physical distancing at all times
- Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres in areas where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
- Capacity limits, where physical distancing can be maintained
- 10 people in indoor areas with weights and exercise machines
- 10 people in all indoor classes or
- 25 people in outdoor classes
- No spectators permitted, however each person under 18 may be accompanied by one parent or guardian
Note: Facilities that have separate rooms for indoor classes and also have areas containing weights or exercise machines (and are not considered a community centre or multi-purpose facility), the total number of members of the public must not exceed 20 persons.
- Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
- Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within 2 metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports
- Exemptions for high performance athletes and parasport
- Patrons may only be in the facility for 90 minutes except if engaging in a sport
- Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public
- Face coverings required except when exercising
- Require contact information for all members of the public that enter the facility
- Require reservation for entry; one reservation for teams
- Active screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
- A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit – Specific Enhanced Measures
Gyms and Fitness Centers instructions:
- Strictly follow the number of people allowed in the establishment under the regulations.
- Direct participants to pre-register for a specific group class that might be offered (i.e., no walk-in participants permitted), in addition to the provincially mandated registration to enter the facility.
- Maintain class lists with names and contact information of participants to assist with cohorting and contact tracing in the event of an exposure.
- Retain class contact lists for a period of at least one month; and only disclose the records to a MOH or an inspector under the HPPA on request for a purpose specified in Section 2 of that Act or as otherwise required by law.
Managing & Reporting COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace
The Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace: Guidance for Employers, Owners, and Operators provides guidance for businesses and workplaces to appropriately manage employees who have either tested positive for COVID-19, been identified as a close contact of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, or experiencing symptoms without any known exposure to COVID-19.
Reporting Workplace Outbreaks
The ‘Reporting Workplace Outbreaks to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit: Guidance for Employers, Business Owners, & Operators’ provides information for employers to understand their roles in a suspected workplace outbreak, their responsibility to notify the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) about COVID-19 cases in the workplace, and how workplace outbreak information will be disclosed to the public.
Return to Work Timelines
The COVID-19 Decision Guide for Workplaces provides details on return to work guidelines for employees based on their level of exposure to COVID-19 (i.e., high or low risk contact), the results of their COVID-19 test, and the severity of symptoms from COVID-19. For additional information, you may also review the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-isolation and return to work webpage.
COVID-19 Safety Plan
When public health unit regions return to the framework, all facilities and businesses must have safety plans, no matter their colour-coded zone. Visit the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan Requirements webpage for details and templates for download.
Non-Medical Face Masks, Face Coverings, and Eye Protection
Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open mandates the wearing of face coverings in indoor public places and workplaces. Municipalities and organizations have created further regulations through the development of face-covering policies. Several local municipalities have included further spaces where masks are required by passing by-laws.
- Non-medical masks or face coverings should also be worn in other situations (for example, outdoors) when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Train staff on the proper use, removal and disposal of non-medical masks.
- Face Coverings and Face Masks (Government of Ontario)
- WECHU How to Safely Wear a Mask (multiple languages)
- How to Safely Use a Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering (Public Health Agency of Canada)
- The wearing of face masks does not replace other important public health measures, such as physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve and staying home when feeling ill.
Signage and Screening
Every patron/customer/staff member that enters the facility/workplace must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors. There are two different types of screening:
- Passive screening: people assess their own risk factors and make the decision themselves. Post clear signage at all entrances with screening questions and instructions. If active screening of patrons entering a facility is not possible (for example, public transit, grocery stores), post signage instructing people with symptoms not to enter. Note: for retail stores, screening is only required at entrance to shopping malls, and not individual stores.
- Active screening: an employer ensures that the information is collected and reviewed to determine whether a person may enter the workplace. Actively screen staff using the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces. This includes workers, volunteers, suppliers, and contractors.
- Post signage at entrances and throughout the building that clearly communicate procedures for physical distancing between staff and users/visitors. This include posters and floor markings such as instructional tape/stickers that direct the flow of people waiting for services, equipment, or in other waiting areas. Examples of signage can be found in the Resources & Signage section of the WECHU website.
- Collect contact information from all patrons who enter the facility (name, contact information, dates and times). These records must comply with privacy requirements and could support case and contact tracing by the local public health unit in the event of an outbreak.
- Post signage to communicate entry procedures such as hand sanitizing, sneeze and cough etiquette, wearing of cloth masks, and/or screening for symptoms.
- Ensure employees are aware of common COVID-19 symptoms and in addition to active screening upon arrival, instruct them to complete a daily provincial screening tool for workplaces before reporting to work.
- Provide training to employees on effective hand hygiene practices and if required, the proper way to put on and remove PPE such as masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves.
General Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Ensure there is always sufficient supply of approved disinfecting solution or wipes, and an alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer) with a minimum of 60% alcohol content, liquid hand soap, and paper towels. These should be easily accessible to employees.
- Enough time should be allocated to allow for the cleaning and disinfecting of sport and recreational fitness areas and equipment at established intervals (e.g., between bookings).
- Clean and disinfect common use areas such as restrooms and, change rooms, showers, group exercise studios, work out areas and other high touch surfaces more frequently.
- Fitness and sports equipment should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, such as between uses or at the end of play. This includes free weights, weight machines, treadmills, rowing machines, stationary bikes, classroom areas, balls, rackets, gloves, and other sports gear. It is recommended that a dedicated worker is available to ensure cleaning between uses.
- Identify hard-to-clean items (e.g., stretch bands, yoga blocks, straps, ropes, foam rollers, foam mats) and decide if access to them should be restricted. If possible, ask people to bring their own.
- Post signage directing members to clean their equipment and space before and after use and sanitize hands often during their workout. Be sure to provide plenty of cleaner, disinfectant, paper towels and garbage bins near work out equipment.
- Minimize the need for touchpoints such as keys and lockers, and consider contactless check-in and touch-free payment systems.
- Considering the suspension of towel and other rental services. If offered, towels should be clearly separated (clean and used), appropriately laundered (hot water 60° to 90° Celsius), and dried well). All other rented materials must be disinfected between each use.
Government of Ontario
- Ontario Regulation 263/20 Rules for Areas in Stage 2
- Guidance for facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities during COVID-19
- Ontario Regulation 565: Public Pools