Pair of Kelowna yoga studios remain open despite public health orders | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Pair of Kelowna yoga studios remain open despite public health orders

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

More Central Okanagan fitness centres are defying public health orders by continuing to hold classes, stating they haven’t been provided with evidence to show they’re a risk to the community.

Our Yoga Space owner Taylor Morrice posted a video on the studio’s Instagram page Jan. 11 saying they decided to remain open as they haven’t received a response from Interior Health, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry or Premier John Horgan that outlines clear reasoning for the mandated closures.

“We are a place where people come for a spiritual practice… and for their mental health to take care of themselves through and through,” Morrice said in the video.

In an Instagram video yesterday, Jan. 12, Morrice said they could lose everything if they remain open or not.

The B.C. Ministry of Health ordered gyms and fitness classes to close on Dec. 21 in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

The restrictions aren't limited to just fitness centres. They also include closures of nightclubs and reduced capacity for indoor events.

Kelowna's Bliss Yoga Lounge has also decided to remain open, according to a video on its Instagram page, citing mental health as being essential. 

Bliss Yoga owner Tara Greer said they've been following the provincial health mandates on closures up until this point but decided to "take a stand" because of the support they've received from their yoga community for mental health.

"As great as alternative online (classes) can be, it's just not the same... we've had very vulnerable letters written to us stating how this is part of their recovering program for some people struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, that type of thing," Greer said.

She received a warning letter from Interior Health for remaining open but said she didn't receive any data after a request to show that yoga studios are "part of the problem." If presented with more data, she would reconsider her decision.

"Getting a fine for $2,500 is still less than the business that we would be losing out on if we close anyways. The way it's going with all these multiple closures, it feels like at some point our business would have to closure anyways," she said.

Two other yoga studios in Kelowna have already permanently closed during the pandemic and government grants don't come close to covering the money lost with closures, Greer said.

Other gyms in the Thompson-Okanagan region and the province are remaining open despite public health orders.

On Dec. 21, a Keep B.C.'s Gyms Open petition was launched on calling on Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Henry to keep gyms open with additional restrictions. It has gathered more than 46,000 signatures.

Iron Energy Gym in West Kelowna was fined $2,300 and the City of West Kelowna denied renewing its business license for remaining open but an online fundraiser for the gym raised more than the amount of the fine.

READ MORE: Defiant West Kelowna gym's $2,300 fine already paid for by fundraiser

In a written statement, Interior Health said 11 warning letters and one additional closure order were issued since the order was put in place. The RCMP have also issued $2,300 fines to at least five gyms in the Interior.

"Interior Health recognizes the importance of physical activity for people, both physically and emotionally, and we urge people to look at alternatives as we collectively reduce the risk of further COVID-19 exposures in our communities. A number of fitness facilities have already done this, with virtual classes and workouts," reads the health authority statement.

Our Yoga Space owner Taylor Morrice could not be immediately reached for comment.

— This story was updated at 4:51 p.m. Jan. 13, 2022, with a comment from Tara Greer.

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