Dance studios in Ontario hot zones to reopen with conditions: Minister
OTTAWA -- An 11-year-old girl has written to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, asking him to reconsider shutting down her dance studio.
And it appears the premier is listening.
A senior government source tells CTV News Ottawa that dance studios in the province's hot zones will be allowed to reopen with restrictions. No walk-in dancers will be allowed. Dancers must pre-register for classes and only 10 people are allowed inside at a time.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod confirmed the news on Twitter.
Dance studios were closed this month in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel Region and York Region as the areas moved to modified Stage 2 restrictions.
11-year-old Olivia O’Connor, who lives in the York region, says she loves dancing and wrote to the premier asking him to reconsider the closures.
“Dance is like a feeling that I don’t get anywhere else.”
In her letter to the premier, O'Connor writes, “Mr. Ford, I am begging you to reconsider the closing of our dance studios… For us, it is not just a sport; it’s a piece of who we are inside, we train hard year round and need to share a room with other artists.”
Olivia’s mom, Megan O’Connor, thinks it can be done safely.
“A hundred percent, without any doubt - I think she needs it; I think for her mental health, for her focus, her ability to complete school work.”
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Ford said he would be discussing changes to the rules.
“I’m a big supporter of the dance studios,” Ford said. “I'm doing everything I can, working with Dr. Williams, and the health table. I know cabinet will be discussing this this afternoon.”
On Sunday, MacLeod said she heard from dance studios "loud and clear" and was working on allowing them to reopen. She told CTV News Ottawa that dance studios were lumped in unfairly with gyms and fitness clubs.
Natasha Prystasz attends the Greta Leeming Studio of Dance in Ottawa; she wants to get back to class too.
“It means so much to me because it’s like my greatest passion. We’ve been really taking extra precautions,” she said.
Her mother, Andrea Goodman, says she would feel safe sending her daughter back if the dance school was to re-open.
“If I got a phone call saying, 'come to the studio,' she’d be there.”
The studio is ready to reopen. Its owner says she is waiting to hear from the province if they have the go-ahead.
“It’s safe. We have very special rules; where you walk in and out, socially and physically distanced, having the classes put into cohorts,” said Tami-Lynn Caloia.
Olivia O’Connor is hoping that her letter is noticed, and that she can dance with her friends again.
“Dance is way better with them.”