MONTREAL -- Health officials in Quebec City ordered a local gym to shut down Wednesday after a visit revealed "sanitary deficiencies" and an outbreak that led to 68 people contracting COVID-19.

In a statement issued from the Quebec City health and social services centre (CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale), public health director Dr. André Dontigny said all activity at the Mega Fitness Gym "is prohibited until further notice."

According to the statement, public health officials visited the gym Tuesday and observed few safety measures being followed, including: clients not being screened for symptoms upon arrival and working out while not respecting physical distancing, and "inadequate personal protection for workers on site."

An investigation into the fitness centre's operations revealed clients from gym are linked to at least eight outbreaks in their workplaces. 

"The Direction de santé publique de la Capitale-Nationale and its civilian and police partners have the necessary means to counter any threat to the health and safety of the population of the Capitale-Nationale," the health authority said in a news release. 

"In the current epidemiological context, we will not hesitate to use all the means and levers at our disposal to this end."A post on the gym's Facebook post on Monday asked clients to wear a mask at all times and to regularly clean the equipment. 


Clients had complained that the gym was not taking appropriate steps to protect them.

"As soon as we found out, we sent people to get tested," said gym manager Dave Aube-Ouellet. "There's a lot of people in our gym and it's hard to enforce the sanitary rules."

Premier Francois Legault had some strong words for the gym's owner Daniel Marino, who sources say, was among those hospitalized and in intensive care.

"You have to think about those kids that won't be able next week to go to school," said Legault. "You have to think about nurses that have been working hard for one year. It's not against or between him and me. It's between him and other citizens."

Health Minister Christian Dube used the gym as an example of what can happen when people gather as Eastern weekend approaches.

"Let's use this example in the gym that happened two days ago, and let's make sure it doesn't happen this weekend during the long holiday," said Dube.