A Canadian spin studio followed public health guidelines. But 61 people still caught the covid-19.

Now, despite appearing to have complied with public health regulations, at least 61 people linked to the studio have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“They had done all sorts of things to remove the potential for spread,” Richardson told reporters. “Unfortunately, gyms are a higher-risk place because of the fact that generally people are taking off their masks, they’re breathing at a higher rate.”

Although Hamilton requires masks to be worn in most public settings, the law includes an exemption for anyone “actively engaged in an athletic or fitness activity.” In keeping with that policy, the studio, SPINCO, allowed riders to remove their masks once clipped into their bikes, and told them to cover up again before dismounting.

In a recent Instagram post, SPINCO’s owners said that they had been “hesitant” to reopen after getting the green light in July, and would not resume classes “until it is safe to do so.” Health officials have said that the studio is temporarily closed and cooperating fully with the investigation.

“We took all the measures public health offered, even added a few, and still the pandemic struck us again!’” the owners wrote. SPINCO has more than a dozen locations across Canada.

As of Tuesday, 44 cases linked to specific classes were detected, Richardson said. An additional 17 instances of “secondary cases” were found among other contacts.

The city will reexamine gym protocols, Richardson added Tuesday, but in the meantime, “what seems to be the case is that you need to wear that mask” even though government guidelines do not strictly require it.

“It’s still a good idea to do it, in terms of keeping others safe,” she said.

People should also avoid “classes where you’ve got that kind of yelling or coaching over music.”

She declined to use the term “superspreader” to describe the event but said it is a “very large outbreak.”

“It is concerning that it is extended beyond the initial cases who were related to the classes but gone into of course their household contacts and other contacts,” she said. “We continue to look at what does it mean, what do we need to understand about exercise classes?”

The outbreak offers further evidence of the dangers of people gathering indoors without masks, as health experts warn that cases could spike further in the coming months as winter weather sets in and outdoor gatherings and exercise classes will be harder to maintain.

In August, South Korea confirmed dozens of cases linked to a single Starbucks in the city of Paju where many customers did not wear masks. The store employees, who wore masks, were not infected. The outbreak prompted Starbucks to limit its indoor seating in the country and encourage masks among patrons.

In other instances, mask usage has been credited with preventing potential outbreaks. In May, after the reopening of a hair salon in Missouri that required masks, two stylists — who had worked with more than 100 clients — tested positive for the virus. But masks were

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One client in one spin studio that followed all the rules triggers a coronavirus outbreak with at least 61 cases

SPINCO, in Hamilton, Ontario, just reopened in July and had all of the right protocols in place, including screening of staff and attendees, tracking all those in attendance at each class, masking before and after classes, laundering towels and cleaning the rooms within 30 minutes of a complete class, said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, in a statement.

But it still wasn’t enough.

Public health officials are very concerned about the number of cases and the size of the outbreak, especially because the city is not currently a hotspot and the facility was not ignoring health protocols, they said in a statement to CNN.

“They have also supported public health services in our investigation by sharing the messaging with all their members,” said Richardson.

There are currently 44 confirmed positive primary cases associated with SPINCO and 17 confirmed secondary cases. Exposure was linked to several classes held from September 28 to October 4.

The studio’s co-owners, Naz Zarezadegan and Ira Price, told The Hamilton Spectator on Monday that public health officials told them “patient zero displayed no symptoms.”

In a post to clients on Instagram, SPINCO exclaimed in frustration, “We took all the measures public health offered, even added a few, and still the pandemic struck us again!'”

SPINCO said it will stay closed pending further investigation by health officials.

City officials say SPINCO was operating at 50% capacity, with a 6-foot radius around each bike, and that this might raise questions about the safety of gyms and fitness studios during the pandemic.

“We continue to look at what does it mean, what do we need to understand about exercises classes,” Richardson said in a media briefing Tuesday.

Canada is reckoning with a second wave of the coronavirus which has been marked by a doubling of new, daily positive cases of Covid-19 within the past month. Targeted restrictions and closures are in place in many urban centers including Toronto and Montreal, but not in Hamilton.

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