Some of Maple Ridge’s Fraser Kickboxing’s COVID-19 measures are posted on their front door. (Ronan O’Doherty photo)

Some of Maple Ridge’s Fraser Kickboxing’s COVID-19 measures are posted on their front door. (Ronan O’Doherty photo)

Status quo for many Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows institutions despite new COVID-19 measures

For gyms, churches and large employers much will remain the same

A series of “circuit breaker” orders and recommendations issued by the provincial health officer on Monday, will not change much about the way many Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows institutions go about their business.

Local gyms, churches, and large employers have all been quite stringent in their attempts to prevent outbreaks, and are continuing with measures they have already established.

For Chris Fraser, owner of Fraser’s Kickboxing on Dewdney Trunk Road, the latest round of restrictions – which ban all adult group fitness activities – will not affect his gym.

“We already have them all in place,” he said.

The club has put a pause on adult classes, and each young martial artist wears a mask while working out in their own designated area.

Classes are restricted to six people – despite the facility’s square footage allowing for ten – so each student has plenty of space.

Fraser has also discontinued Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes as well as sparring at the gym, as the close contact necessary for both does not lend itself to physical distancing.

The measures have been tough on the gym, which celebrated its 20th year in the community last August, but Fraser has been doing his best to remain stalwart.

“We’ve had to add more classes to get more people in there, but there are only so many hours in the day where people are able to take classes, so it’s been difficult,” he said.

The club’s adult students are contacting him frequently to express their interest in resuming classes, Fraser added.

“Exercise is important for fitness but also for the endorphins it releases, and the social aspect as well,” he said.

With Easter coming up, some of the local churches might have been hoping to open up the doors to their parishes, but they were prepared to celebrate virtually too.

Fourteen congregations joined in to create a united virtual Good Friday service.

Ridge Church lead pastor Jonathan Neufeld said the Baptist church was not planning on having any in-person masses this weekend.

“We decided we were going to do everything online well before any of these changes,” he said. “We want to open as soon as we reasonably can, but we’re committed to working with everyone else to make sure it’s safe to do so.”

Neufeld said Ridge Church recently sent out a communication to its congregation asking them to pray for the B.C. government.

“They have tough decisions to make,” he said.

“We don’t always love the decisions they make, but we understand they’re trying to do what’s best for everybody, and so we’re just praying for them, praying for our city, and asking for God’s grace.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry also asked people across the province to work from home if possible.

The City of Maple Ridge and the City of Pitt Meadows, which are two of the larger employers in the region, are already making sure most of their staff are staying away from the office.

Pitt Meadows manager of communications Carolyn Baldridge said the majority of the city’s workers will continue to stay home until the pandemic is over.

‘The city is monitoring the situation closely and will make further adjustments if necessary,” she said.

Maple Ridge manager of community engagement and relations Fred Armstrong said at any given time, approximately 50 per cent of municipal employees are working from home.

“Technology has been put in place for people to work remotely and ensure service impacts are mitigated. From Zoom meetings to call forwarding, coverage has been seamless,” he said.

Parks and operations staff that work outdoors are also following special protocols to balance their work tasks and social distancing requirements, Armstrong added.

“Work cohorts and split shifts have helped keep these workers safe,” he said.

The fire department has also been following special protocols and working in cohorts to ensure they are able to follow all guidelines.

“You have no doubt seen the (personal protective equipment) that they use in response to medical emergencies,” he said. “Spreading workers across various fire halls has allowed the fire department to protect the public and each other.”

In addition, elected official have been given the option to attend meetings remotely via Zoom or in-person with COVID-19 protocols in place, such as physically-distanced desk placement and mandatory mask usage when not seated.

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