An Ottawa gym owner defied provincial COVID-19 lockdown orders by opening the doors of his small business to patrons hoping to exercise indoors. 

FRST Fitness on Bank Street remained open on Thursday despite Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s latest directives for gyms and personal care services to shut down.

“I believe that everybody is responsible for their own health and they should take their own health into their own hands,” FRST Fitness owner Spencer Ayres told CityNews

“Everybody should be out, opening up their businesses in light of this new lockdown and showing their support for other small businesses.”

FRST Fitness’ opening was attended by at least 70 people who were there to show their support and protest Ontario’s latest strict lockdown regime. 

Independent Ontario MPP Randy Hillier spoke at the gathering which was also attended by the group No More Lockdowns Canada. 

“I have a responsibility to defend their freedom, for them to make the choice, for them to have responsibility, that’s what made Canada great,” said Hillier. 

“In every barn yard, in every backyard, in every small business, in every legislature, in every where, I will defend freedom.”

FRST Fitness isn’t the only gym to defy the province’s lockdown restrictions. In March, Sharky’s Athletic Club in Sarnia opened its doors to customers despite the region’s grey level lockdown. According to owners Bill and Cindy Van Hoogenhuize, they were handed a fine of $1,000.

Yesterday, Ford plunged the province into a state of emergency and declared a new stay-at-home order which effectively requires Ontario residents to remain in their residences unless it is for essential reasons. 

Non-essential businesses and retailers are required to be closed for all indoor shopping or indoor dining. Meanwhile, big box outlets are being allowed to remain open at a 25% capacity to sell essential items. 

The order went into effect on Thursday and will be enforced for a 28-day period. 

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