Mary Jane Clinkard suffers from a neuromuscular disability that requires her to exercise to maintain her strength, but with municipal pools under lockdown since Boxing Day, she hasn't been able to do that. Now her muscles feel weak, stiff and painful, and her independence is in jeopardy. The 50-year-old fears she'll need a personal support worker to get in and out of her wheelchair if she can't get back into the water soon. Clinkard, who has hypotonia, told CBC's Ottawa Morning it's especially disheartening when she hears others talking about the activities they're able to do during the lockdown. "I get really, really frustrated when I hear, 'We all go skating or go skiing,' and I'm like, 'Well, I can't do either of those,'" Clinkard said. Once the pools reopened in July, it took Clinkard months of swimming three times a week to get back into shape. Then Ontario entered another lockdown. The Sandy Hill woman would like to see swimming pools deemed essential, and said she's not the only one who depends on them for her health. "There are other people who cannot walk, who cannot ski, cannot skate," she said. No exemptions According to Dan Chenier, the city's general manager of recreation, cultural and facility services, the provincial restrictions currently in place don't allow exemptions for people wishing to use indoor municipal facilities for physical therapy or rehabilitation. "Provincial authorities have been made aware of the request for an exemption for [...] these services and the City will be monitoring the revised regulations for any changes," Chenier said in an emailed statement. When am I going to be back in the water? When am I going to be able to swim again? - Mary Jane Clinkard According to the office of Sylvia Jones, Ontario's solicitor general, the second wave of COVID-19 poses a serious threat to the province's most vulnerable. "The single most important thing Ontarians can do right now to protect our most vulnerable is to stay at home," wrote Stephen Warner, Jones's press secretary and issues manager. "As we continue our vaccine rollout, this is our best defense against this virus." According to Warner, municipalities don't have the power to ease restrictions put in place under the province's lockdown. Restrictions 'frustrating and difficult' Under the stay-at-home order, only "exercising, including walking or moving around outdoors using an assistive mobility device, or using an outdoor recreational amenity" are allowed. Coun. Matt Luloff, who represents Orléans and sits on the city's community and protective services committee, called that lack of flexibility "frustrating and difficult." On Monday, Luloff told Ottawa Morning if exemptions can be made for NHL players, then people who rely on certain facilities for their health and well-being should be granted similar leeway. "We can say to one group of people that it's fine to ... bubble and to provide entertainment for us," he told Ottawa Morning on Monday. "But when there's a real need, a real physical [or] mental health need, that's just not as important as getting to see the Sens play." "Maybe if the city doesn't feel comfortable opening people pools for everybody, they can open one pool for people who really need it," Clinkard suggested. "When am I going to be back in the water? When am I going to be able to swim again?"