Sports Montreal gym owner tired of police visits during pandemic
How a Quebec City gym outbreak became one of Canada's largest COVID-19 superspreading events
We still don’t know exactly how it started, but the outbreak has become one of the largest recorded COVID-19 superspreading events in Canada. Experts say it serves as a cautionary tale as the country contends with more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.The Méga Fitness Gym, tucked behind a busy highway in an industrial section of the provincial capital, became a major source of contagion for the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, which now accounts for 70 per cent of all cases in Quebec City.
Firas Zahabi is not one to back down from a fight, so when police visited his gym for the 16th time in the past year — and the third time in one day — he decided to take a stand.
Zahabi has owned Montreal’ssince 2008, where he has trained some of the top mixed martial arts stars from around the world, including former UFC welterweight champion Georges-St-Pierre. The gym is located on the top floor of a nondescript, three-storey industrial building on Ferrier St. off Décarie Blvd.
Retooled CF Montréal kicks off MLS season with plenty of new faces
A new name, jersey, logo, manager and season. Club de Foot Montréal hopes for a fresh start as it embarks on its 2021 Major League Soccer campaign. “We want to start on the right foot with that new identity,” midfielder Samuel Piette said Friday, during a video conference from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “I think you’re going to see a team that’s hungry and excited to show the world what we have inside us.” CF Montréal, which underwent a rebranding during the winter, launches its 34-game regular schedule on Saturday (2 p.m., TSN1, TSN4, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690, 91.9 FM) against Toronto FC.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Zahabi says the premises have been visited regularly by police in response to complaints from neighbours, presumably to verify whether the gym was conforming to public health regulations. Yet according to Zahabi, no fines were ever issued.
A couple of weeks ago, Zahabi hit his limit.
“They came three times in one day, which I found to be excessive,” he said. “People are starting to think I’m running a crime ring. I’m a business. I normally train children and family members. I don’t want the reputation that I’m (Mexican drug lord) El Chapo. There’s nothing illegal going on at the gym.
“The officers know Tristar Gym. We’re a famous, popular gym with many world-class fighters and champions.”
Zahabi says his gym is closed to regular classes but he and his team continue to offer private training for up to two people at a time, as permitted under the current regulations.
George Floyd's brother express gratitude to Las Vegas Raiders for their support
Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, expressed gratitude to the Raiders following backlash to the NFL team's "I can breathe" tweet."On behalf of our family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Las Vegas Raiders organization and its leadership for their support of our family and for our nation's ongoing pursuit of justice and equality for all," Floyd said in a statement shared by the law firm representing George Floyd's family.
“Every gym in Montreal is doing this,” he said, “yet they’re fixated on us. Maybe it’s because one of our neighbours keeps calling (the police).”
When on April 9 the police came for the third time that day, Zahabi refused to open the door. There were several instructors and athletes inside, many of whom have bedrooms on the premises.
“Police were upset we weren’t opening the door,” he said. “The officer knocked and was yelling and banging, trying to intimidate us. We’re fighters, we’re not intimidated. I said to the officers, ‘When you have a search warrant, I’ll open the door. If you don’t, I don’t have to, legally.’ I was telling them nicely.”
The situation dragged on for hours, with police waiting outside and Zahabi and some of the others eventually going up to the roof.
“I said, ‘Why are you not leaving?’ ” he recounted. “They said, ‘Because of suspicion.'”
According to Zahabi, police suspected he was conducting classes on the premises, so he encouraged them to wait until 6 p.m., when his Friday classes are normally scheduled, to see if anyone showed up. Police waited five hours, but no one came.
#ICYMI: Vaccination campaign, Bill 101, meteor shower, Osheaga, more news
Concern over the spread of new coronavirus variants has led Canada to ban passenger flights from Indian and Pakistan for 30 days, Andy Riga reports in his daily live blog covering pandemic developments. Read it here . In Montreal news Gym owner fed up with police visits Firas Zahabi is not one to back down from a fight, so when police visited his gym for the 16th time in the past year — and the third time in one day — he decided to take a stand. Read the full report .
Zahabi says the issue appears to be resolved for the time being. He had a conversation with one of his neighbours, who “told me it would never happen again.”
He also spoke with Montreal police, who said they put a note in his file.
“If they get a call, they will call me directly. I’m going to give them access whenever they want. It doesn’t have to be a show. I don’t want police at the place all the time.”
Zahabi doesn’t blame anyone for the situation, which he chalks up to everyone being stressed due to COVID-19. But he does take issue with the Quebec government’s regulations.
“Why is the mall open and gyms are closed?” he asked. “If it’s truly a pandemic, then close the mall.
“People are scared for the elderly, I get it. But we’re smart enough to go to the gym, train people and keep away from the elderly. I’d love to challenge (the government) on these protocols.”
Montreal police does not comment on specific files in order to respect confidentiality, but spokesperson Véronique Comtois said that when police receive a complaint to 911, they will verify the complaint.
COVID protocol-related absences: 04/25
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today’s list: Calgary – Josh Leivo Colorado – Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen New Jersey – P.K.Calgary – Josh Leivo
All our coronavirus-related news can be found at.
Sign up for our email newsletter dedicated to local COVID-19 coverage at.
Help support our local journalism by.
COVID-19 live updates: Quebec reports 1,041 new cases, 13 more deaths .
This post will be updated throughout the day on Friday, April 30. Questions/comments: firstname.lastname@example.org Top updates U.S. to restrict travel from India Federal government speaking to Ontario about suspending arrivals of international students: Trudeau Quebec reports 1,041 new cases, 13 more deaths Vaccinations at Olympic Stadium moved due to protest planned for Saturday ER staff outbreak at St. Mary’s Hospital rises by three to 18 Quebec teens won’t be vaccinated before end of school year: Dubé Ontario golf course charged with defying shutdown order, faces $10M fine Vaccination registration opens for Quebecers 50 and up Quebec bars and restaurants want to reopen