City of Ottawa closes 613 Lift, a gym for weightlifters that repeatedly defied COVID-19 restrictions
The gym 613 Lift, a Jamie Avenue business that in the last month repeatedly violated the provincial emergency order and remained open, was forced Wednesday afternoon to close by the City of Ottawa.
“This is the kind of situation that gets people’s blood boiling,” Mayor Jim Watson commented at a press conference where the city, responding to questions from this newspaper, disclosed that bylaw and police officers were at the gym, enforcing its closure.
The press conference heard that in addition to 613 Lift flouting pandemic restrictions, the gym had COVID-19 cases connected to it.
Watson called the gym’s actions “the height of irresponsibility in the midst of a pandemic.
“Almost every day, people in our city are dying and he (the gym’s owner) seems to think that he’s above the rules and the laws.”
The gym’s owner, identified on social media as Nicholas Di Nardo, did not return a call for comment from this newspaper.
In the first week of April, bylaw officers charged 613 Lift twice, as a “gym operating contrary to provincial order” and for “fail(ing) to wear a mask within enclosed public space.”
Anthony Di Monte, the city’s general manager of emergency and protective services, said bylaw officers subsequently visited the gym but “had great difficulty every time.” Staff at the gym locked its doors, refused to let officers in and “in some cases were quite belligerent… not violent but very overtly aggressive towards our officers,” Di Monte said. A third charge was issued, Di Monte said.
Di Monte added that cases of COVID-19 were linked to the gym, and the gym’s operator was very uncooperative with Ottawa Public Health investigators attempting to do contact tracing and try to halt the spread of the virus.
“That is an unacceptable situation,” Di Monte said.
In a statement Thursday, Ottawa Public Health said 613 Lift is to remain closed until it is “satisfied that the immediate risk of spread of COVID-19 has abated and the business has implemented measures that adequately protect staff and any visitors from COVID-19.”
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, said Wednesday Ottawa Public Health’s investigation into the gym is ongoing.
Ottawa Public Health does not identify the sites of outbreaks. However, the agency would classify a gym in the “workplace – recreation” category on its online community outbreak database. The database shows there were two outbreaks, each involving three people, in the “workplace – recreation” category in April.