John’s Gym. (Photo submitted)

John’s Gym. (Photo submitted)

Bashaw businesses ready to battle government over restrictions

The Noble Fox opened to sit-down diners on Jan. 27 and John’s Gym plans to open Feb. 1

At least two Bashaw businesses have had enough with the prolonged provincial restrictions and have opened their doors, or plan to soon.

The Noble Fox restaurant in Bashaw opened for diners on Jan. 27 in solidarity with other Alberta businesses taking part in the “United we Survive” movement, encouraging all restaurants and other impacted businesses to open.

In a post on their Facebook page Jan. 26, the restaurant announced it would be opening “after a lot of thought and consideration.”

In the post, the owners state no hard data has been given that restaurants and gyms have been the cause of rising COVID-19 numbers.

“We feel we are the scapegoats to these nonsensical restrictions … I am not going to watch my livelihood go up in smoke without a fight.”

Online response was largely positive, with comments saying “fight the good fight,” “be open and free” and “thank you for taking a stand.”

Co-owner Carlos Siguenza had stated in a chamber Zoom call earlier this month that he’d been having trouble receiving government COVID-19 support and was running out of savings.

READ MORE: Brainstorming for businesses: Zoom meeting held to discuss supports

Siguenza says they’ve received lot of support from the local community, but customers have also come from Calgary and Edmonton, despite the road conditions.

Their Facebook post has reached 40,000 people and about 90 per cent of the comments have been positive, he says.

The owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, which is also open in participation of the sit-down dining protest, came to show his support as well.

READ MORE: Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

As far as masks go, Siguenza and his staff aren’t wearing them, but everyone coming into the restaurant is asked if they’re alright with that and given the choice to wear a mask or not wear one.

“I’m not going to go and abuse their human rights,” said Siguenza.

Bashaw RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Bruce Holliday, another officer and a public health officer came by the restaurant, according to Siguenza.

Siguenza was issued a verbal warning from the health officer, and given a court summons for April 22, 2021.

He questions the logic of that, saying “if it’s a warning then why a summons?”

Siguenza is reaching out to a lawyer in Calgary to figure out his options.

Loren Jacobs, co-owner of John’s Gym in Bashaw says they plan to open on Monday, Feb. 1.

“We feel the government is taking steps to help with physical health and as gym owners we are also big components of that,” said Jacobs.

He adds the government is “missing the ball,” however, as exercise is very important to physical and mental health.

Pre-COVID, gyms users were already pretty good at sanitizing their stations and gym users aren’t an at-risk demographic for either transmitting the virus or having serious consequences from it if infected, he says.

“I think a lot of people who attend gyms and fitness centres are healthier individuals, both physically and mentally and therefor more resilient to sickness, disease or the virus,” said Jacobs, adding keeping gyms closed is more of a detriment to public health than a help.

Jacobs says he feels it’s a “little bit backwards” that big box stores are allowed to be open when small businesses which are often the owner’s only source of income, aren’t.

John’s Gym has purchased extra sanitizing equipment and will be following COVID-19 health protocols, such as physically distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing stations before and after use and signage will be in place.

“We’re more than happy to follow all the same precautions as everyone else and we plan to,” said Jacobs.

Bashaw