Martial arts studios and small gyms demand same treatment as dance studios after provincial reversal
OTTAWA -- The Ontario government has given the green light for dance studios to operate during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, but some businesses are questioning why they have been left out.
Simply put, it's been devastating for Naaron Fijalkowski's martial arts studio, N-1 Thai Boxing Academy on Preston Street.
"The change in revenue has been significant let's just say that," says Fijalkowski. "We went from 40 people in a class to a fraction of that."
The facility can train some athletes registered for competitions, but lifting weights, sparring and physical contact, something Muay Thai boxing uses all aspect of, are off-limits.
"My craft is trying to hone people to compete on a combative platform," he says. "We've got a massive amount of windows around, we can keep them open get some airflow. As far as I know, there hasn't been any cases coming out of a martial arts or combative arts facility."
On Monday, the Ontario government allowed dance studios in hot zones like Ottawa to reopen, reversing the previous closure they'd been under since Ottawa was placed under modified Stage 2 restrictions. Premier Doug Ford said dance studios are teaching facilities with specific cohorted groups, different from businesses like gyms, which have drop-in clients from day to day.
That is something Phil Green doesn't agree with. At his downtown gym on Albert Street, Bodies by Phil, he says many of the new restrictions imposed on dance studios in order to operate are similar to ones he was already using.
"I think that's maybe where the disconnect is. There's a lot of studios like mine that operate exactly in that fashion," he said.
Dance studios can open with a maximum of 10 people in a class; they must be pre-registered and no walk-ins are allowed.
Green notes that his membership is supportive of his desire to reopen. It's about more than lifting weights, he says, it's for mental health during a pandemic.
Until the Ontario government reviews their closures, Green has to accept that his business will remain closed. All he wants is the same options granted to dance studios, he says, because it was never extended to him.