You don't need to wear a mask while exercising at the gym: Dr. Etches

You will need to wear your face mask when walking into the gym and in the locker room, but Ottawa’s medical officer of health says you can take it off while working out.

Gyms are allowed to open in Ottawa and eastern Ontario on Friday as the region moves into Stage 3 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

Last week, Dr. Vera Etches issued a public health order mandating everyone wear a face mask in all indoor public places to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Speaking on CTV News at Six, Dr. Etches said you will need to pack your mask for the trip to the gym, but not wear it at all times.

“Wearing a mask indoors, certainly when you enter a gym facility so you’re providing that protection to the greeter and others as you come in,” said Dr. Etches.

“But no, you can’t be expected to exercise wearing a mask, and so that can come off. Wash your hands and proceed with the activity.”

Dr. Etches says it’s important that everyone continue to practice physical distancing as we resume activities, including working out at the gym or visiting a bar or restaurant.

Speaking on CTV Morning Live Tuesday morning, the eastern Ontario medical officer of health said the mask rules for eastern Ontario has exemptions for things that are not suitable for wearing a mask, like swimming and working out.

“The concept here is that under these circumstances where you can not wear the mask, which is exactly the exercise, that you should be physical distancing,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis.

“So, we’re asking operators that where the equipment is that there has to be the physical distance between people that are exercising. “

Dr. Roumeliotis adds people will be required to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

“Wear the mask when you go into those common areas: the bathroom, the locker area, shower area. When you’re going to do the actual physical activity - when you go to the bike, treadmill, whatever it is, we are asking that these are physically distanced so that you’ll not need the mask in that situation.”