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Booking ahead, doing without water fountains the new reality as fitness centres re-open

The YMCA is set to re-open Wednesday
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The YMCA is urging its members not to forget their water bottles as fountains won't be available as of tomorrow. Stock image

As the Sault community has flattened the COVID-19 curve, local gyms and health centres have begun to reopen, including the YMCA. CEO Tracey Cooke says the reopening has been cautious, with protections in place so all can feel safe while returning to the much-yearned-for reopening.

“The health and safety of our staff, volunteers and members are the number one priority as we open our doors again,” says Cooke. “At the Y, we will be meeting or exceeding all of the recommendations in the Government of Ontario’s guidelines for recreation facilities and swimming pools.”

That means more frequent disinfection around pools and within the locker rooms.

Coordinated efforts with Algoma Public Health have helped determine the specific guidelines, but Cooke warns these could also change over time, depending on the infection rates.

The facility has laid out the rules as they stand in a page on its website.

“It’s a working situation that could shift, but for now, we are being as careful as possible – especially by making sure our staff and members use masks,” she says. “There will also be plexiglass at the membership desk, health screening upon entry, and even temperature readings of our daily staff and youth as they come in.”

In addition, class sizes will be kept small, especially in limited capacity areas. While classes will run, physical distancing will be in effect and each participant will have to remain in their own “bubble”.

“We’ll also be laying down directional arrows for traffic flow and more signage to remind people of the precautions we expect them to follow,” says Cooke.

While the Y will mostly return to normal, hours will be reduced and there will be increases in cleaning staff to support new protocols. “With the exception of saunas, water fountains, and contact sports, such as multi-player basketball, things will look very much the same,” said Cooke.

“So it’s really important – since the fountains won’t be available – to bring your own water bottle.”

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