Police threaten Cédric Lapointe with jail time for working solo, breaking COVID gym closure law

Photo credit: Corey Lansberg | Engineer: @ransbergdigital

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In December 2021, gyms in the province of Quebec, Canada – a province that currently requires you to be fully vaccinated even to purchase alcohol – were forced to close again due to COVID-19.

After being closed for nearly 400 days since the start of the pandemic, the gym of Cédric Lapointe, hope of the CrossFit Games, CrossFit 819 in Gatineau, has decided to continue operating under the pretext that it is safe and that its services are essential for physical and mental health.

The Gatineau Police Service got wind of it, visited him and contacted the Public Health Department, which took the gymnasium to court last week.

The verdict: CrossFit 819 has been found to be in violation of the province’s gym closure mandate according to Lapointe, and if anyone is caught working out in the gym, even alone and even the owner, they could face a sentence. from prison.

  • “We literally had 12 hours to prepare our file (before we had to go to court), and they had to prove we were breaking the law, which they did, and now if someone gets caught in the gym working out, they might go in jail for 30 days…so I’m not going to take a chance,” said Lapointe, who narrowly missed qualifying for the 2021 CrossFit Games when he placed eighth in the semifinals of the CrossFit West Coast Classic. .

For Lapointe, this blow is just another in a long line of challenges he has faced since the start of the pandemic in his ongoing struggle to find a place to train in peace.

Call me back: A year ago, on January 31, Lapointe was training alone at CrossFit 819, a 9,000-square-foot facility, when three police cars and six police officers stormed the gym and then kept him outside in shorts and a sweaty bandana in minus twenty degrees for almost an hour.

  • At the time in Quebec, only professional athletes, or the owner, were allowed to train in a gym, and because they did not recognize CrossFit as a professional sport, Lapointe, a trainer but not an owner, was not allowed to train.
  • Gym closures remained in effect in Quebec for some time after that, Lapointe therefore moved to Alpharetta, GA in April, where he trained for the next four months before returning to Canada in August of last year.

What happened next : Lapointe trained more peacefully in Quebec from August to December 2021, when the new mandate to close gyms came into effect. That being said, the police showed up weekly, Lapointe said, to make sure they were operating with the correct COVID protocols in place. At the time, even to set foot in a gym in Quebec, you had to be double vaccinated.

  • “They said they were going to fine us (several times) because people weren’t two meters apart, or they were wearing their masks under their noses, but they never fined us,” Lapointe said, adding that the police showed up between 15 and 20 times between August and December. .
  • “But to be honest, they were really respectful at that time. and I kind of learned to deal with them and to be respectful to give them what they want, so that I can get what I want, which is peace and the ability to train “, he added.
  • But when gyms were forced to close again in December, the peace ended. “It’s so crazy. The government here actually recommends that people call their neighbors and businesses…and when they get a call, they have to come. We learned in court that the call was actually from another gym owner, but we don’t know who,” Lapointe said.
  • He added: “It’s so sad. They play people against people. Constantly… It’s terrible.

What happens now: CrossFit 819 continues to fight, this time through a Charter Challenge, where they hope to prove in court that the mandate to close gyms is unconstitutional. They will take their case to court next week, but it could take weeks or even months and a lot of money, Lapointe said.

  • In the meantime, Lapointe has been and will continue to train, illegally, at the gymnasium in his friend’s 10-by-15-foot garage. “I park far down the street and walk in because I don’t want a $6,000 fine,” he said.
  • Although he said he felt incredibly lucky to have a place to train, the training environment is far from ideal. “I have to hang inside the platform and the pull-up bar is super low, but I make that happen. I have a rowing machine and an assault bike, but I can’t do muscle-ups or rope climbs,” he said.

And after: With less than a month to go until CrossFit Open 2022, Lapointe admitted he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. “Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do…I’m really scared to sneak into the gym. I went to the gym last week to get some equipment (to take home) and the police were parked right there,” he said.

Another option could be to travel to the province of Ontario to do the Open if gyms open there before the start of the competition. “So that’s a possibility,” he said. “Or who knows, maybe our next interview will be in prison.”

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