The City of Ottawa closes 613 Lift, a gym for weightlifters that repeatedly defied COVID-19 restrictions

“These are the kind of situations that make people’s blood boil,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

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Gym 613 Lift, a Jamie Avenue business that repeatedly violated the regional emergency ordinance in the past month and remained open, was forced to close by the city of Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon.

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“It’s the kind of situation that makes people’s blood boil,” commented Mayor Jim Watson at a news conference, where the city in response to questions from this newspaper revealed that statutes and police officers were in the gym, enforcing the closure.

The press conference heard that in addition to 613 restrictions for lifting pandemic, the gym had COVID-19 cases associated with it.

Watson called the gym’s actions “the height of irresponsibility in the midst of a pandemic.

“Almost every day people die in our town and he (the gym owner) seems to think he’s over the rules and the laws.”

The gym’s owner, who was identified on social media as Nicholas Di Nardo, did not return a call for comment from this newspaper.

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In the first week of April, city officials twice charged 613 Lift as a “gym operating in violation of the province’s order” and for “not wearing a mask in an enclosed public space.”

Ottawa police were on the scene when city officers issued tickets to clients at 613 Lift Wednesday, May.  5, 2021
Ottawa police were on the scene when city officers issued tickets to clients at 613 Lift Wednesday, May. 5, 2021 Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Anthony Di Monte, the city’s director general of emergency and protection services, said lawmakers subsequently visited the gym but “had major problems each time.” The staff at the gym locked the doors, refused to let officers in and “were in some cases quite belligerent … not violent, but very openly aggressive towards our officers,” Di Monte said. A third indictment was issued, Di Monte said.

Di Monte added that cases of COVID-19 were linked to the gym, and the gym operator was very cooperative with Ottawa Public Health investigators who tried to make contact tracking and try to stop the spread of the virus.

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“It’s an unacceptable situation,” Di Monte said.

In a statement Thursday, Ottawa Public Health said 613 Lift should remain closed until it is “convinced that the immediate risk of COVID-19 proliferation has subsided and the company has implemented measures that adequately protect staff and potential visitors from COVID-19. ”

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s health officer, said Wednesday that 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 fitness center in the category of “workplace recreation” on its online community outbreak database. The database shows that there were two outbreaks, each involving three people, in the category “workplace – recreation” in April.

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While city officials have made it clear that gyms can open to provide access for people with disabilities who have medical certificates supporting their needs for physical therapy, few gyms in Ottawa have done so, and 613 Lift is not one of them.

Di Monte said it has been “very uncommon” for companies that have been accused of not following pandemic restrictions to repeat their offenses.

Ottawa police were on the scene when city officers issued tickets to clients at 613 Lift Wednesday, May.  5, 2021
Ottawa police were on the scene when city officers issued tickets to clients at 613 Lift Wednesday, May. 5, 2021 Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

On Wednesday afternoon, a photographer for this newspaper saw an Ottawa bylaw officer issue tickets to about a dozen members of the gym outside the door. Ottawa police handcuffed a man to the scene, but the man was quickly released.

The photographer also spoke to a person whom police identified as the gym landlord. This person was saddened by the closure but robbed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and foreigners who brought the new coronavirus to Canada.

The gym’s Instagram page calls 613 Lift “Ottawa’s Premier Lifting Facility” and says it is open “24/7/365.” Customers buzz into the gym and enter through a door marked with signs that read “members only, “” private property “and” no infringement. “

Instagram post tagged # 613lift shows apparently unmasked customers training in the gym as late as Wednesday.

phum@postmedia.com

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