Dance and fitness studios across the Lower Mainland were only open for one day before being shut down again.
Tammy Morris, owner of four Tantra Fitness locations, said there has been a lack of communication from health authorities and she finds the public health orders are confusing, vague and contradictory.
The provincial health officer ordered a suspension of group dance and fitness classes in the Lower Mainland on Nov. 7, pending development of guidelines and approval of new safety plans, but rescinded that order on Nov. 19. A revised order stated that only HIIT (high intensity interval training), Spin and hot yoga were required to close and extended that provincewide. Other indoor group fitness activities, including dance, martial arts and cheerleading could “stay open while updated guidance is being developed.”
Morris double-checked with Vancouver Coastal Health. “They gave me the green light.”
So she reopened on Monday with strict new policies in place, including temperature checks, half-capacity classes and a staggered schedule.
Morris said part of the problem is that studio owners receive no direct communication from the authorities.
“I wait all day for that 3 o’clock broadcast, and I hang off every word she says. On Monday, Bonnie Henry said nothing about studios needing to close again.”
However, late on Monday, the wording on the provincial website was quietly changed to say that dance, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, strength and conditioning must be suspended “while new guidance is being developed.”
In a statement to Postmedia, the Ministry of Health said: “While spin classes, hot yoga and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are suspended indefinitely, all other indoor group fitness activities are only on pause until public health develops new guidance to ensure safe operation. Once this guidance is completed, facilities offering indoor group fitness activities, other than spin, hot yoga or HIIT, will need to adhere to that guidance, update their safety plans, and post them publicly before these activities can resume. That guidance is being finalized right now and we expect it to be available this week.
Later, a government tweet said it would be available Nov. 30.
“Facilities will not need to seek permission from health authorities before opening, but there will be increased inspections to ensure all facilities are complying with the new guidelines.”
But Morris said the process has been confusing from the start. After the Nov. 7 order, she consulted WorkSafeBC and created 17-page safety plans for each of her four studios, submitting them on Nov. 10.
On the Nov. 11, she received an additional 14-page checklist and questionnaire, which she completed and submitted. On Nov. 12, she was instructed to resubmit her paperwork to three separate working groups based on the location of her studios.
“Not only is there a lack of communication with the studios, there is a lack of communication within the different government bodies,” said Morris.
Morris said if every business was told to shut down to get the virus under control, she would understand. “I walked into a Walmart the other day and people were shoulder to shoulder. It doesn’t make sense.”
Movie theatres have also been affected by Monday’s updated orders: In a clarification of the orders with respect to gatherings and events, films and movies have been added to the definition of “events” prohibited under the order.