British Columbia

Dance, yoga, martial arts among latest activities suspended in B.C. under COVID-19 guidelines

Public health officials have ordered dance studios, yoga studios, gymnastics centres and other spaces offering group indoor fitness activity to temporarily suspend those activities across B.C.

Order is temporary while officials develop 'new guidance,' Ministry of Health says

A man walks past a fitness centre in downtown Vancouver on Thursday. ​Studios running indoor group physical activities must suspend them temporarily as of Tuesday, according to the province. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Public health officials have ordered dance studios, yoga studios, gymnastics centres and other spaces offering group indoor fitness activity to temporarily suspend those activities across B.C.

The guidelines for physical activity spaces were updated on Tuesday. The government website said venues that organize and host indoor group physical activities must suspend them "while new guidance is being developed."

Gymnastics, dance, martial arts, yoga, pilates, cheerleading, and strength and conditioning are activities included in the updated rule.

"Venues must use the new guidance to update and re-post their COVID-19 Safety Plan before resuming operations," the notice said.

The notice did not say when the latest "guidance" would be coming.

The order is an update to restrictions Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry introduced last Thursday. The first round of restricted activities included spin classes, high intensity interval training and hot yoga, but at the time, other group activities were allowed to continue as long as they adhered to public health guidance and had approval for their safety plans.

Business owners confused, frustrated

The inconsistent messaging around orders and restrictions in the health and fitness sector has been confusing and frustrating for business owners and patrons alike. Some businesses closed and reopened after last week, and now have to close again.

Judy Russell kept her eponymous dance studio open over the weekend in Prince George, B.C. She was elated to hear her business would be able to keep going under its safety plan, but now she wishes the province had shut everybody down at the same time when they passed the first set of orders on Thursday.

"It's a very difficult time of the year to be shutting people down. If they were going to do this, they should have just done it and pulled the plug. This is not the time for loopholes. Let's just get better," she told CBC Radio West on Tuesday, after finding out about the updated restrictions through a Facebook group for people who own dance studios.

"We all understand — the most important thing for us is to keep our people safe — but it just seems like it's just become quite confused ... I just feel like [officials are being] yo-yos."

Two people walk into a fitness centre in Vancouver on Nov. 10, 2020. Many fitness spaces across B.C. have been ordered to suspend indoor group activities as public health officials try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Sports teams have also been confused by their restrictions, which are directed at teams travelling between regions and tournaments.

Henry said the Ministry of Health is working with viaSport — the government's agency for sports programs — and other partners to quickly develop specific guidance for provincial teams.

"These clarifications will come," Henry said.

With files from CBC Radio West


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