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Beloved Vancouver dance studio shutters for good citing COVID-19 restrictions

Click to play video: 'B.C. business owners in limbo as latest COVID restrictions set to expire' B.C. business owners in limbo as latest COVID restrictions set to expire
The public health orders which have shuttered B.C. bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness centres and dance studios since late December are set to expire on Tuesday but with no clear direction on what's next, many business owners are in limbo while others say it's already too late. Kristen Robinson reports – Jan 16, 2022

After four rounds of pandemic restrictions, a popular Vancouver dance studio is calling it quits.

For 12 years, Mount Pleasant’s D2 Dance Studio offered an environment, as much social as educational, where people came to salsa, bachata, zouk and more.

But with repeated closures and restrictions on in-person activities aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, co-owner Jennifer Dancey said it no longer made economic sense to hang on to the studio.

“We finally decided it just wasn’t making any sense to pay rent on a space that we were barely able to use,” she said.

Read more: Many gyms ‘doing everything right,’ but top doctor says COVID-19 still spreads within their walls

“Our industry is based on people dancing together and doing things in person, so trying to switch everything to online or Zoom just wasn’t going to work for our business. There are some types of dance you can do by yourself in your living room, but our business is built on social contact.”

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B.C.’s latest restrictions, implemented in mid-December as the Omicron variant drove case numbers skyrocketing, closed public gyms, high-intensity group workout facilities and classes at dance studios.

“When we have a lot of transmission in our community, we have repeatedly seen that gyms become amplifiers,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said earlier this month in response to complaints from the fitness sector.

“We can tell you we’ve seen this as a pattern.”

Read more: Minimizing ‘social disruption’: Why B.C. isn’t implementing more COVID-19 restrictions

Henry has said the province would allow fitness facilities to reopen at the first safe opportunity. She is expected to provide an update on the latest round of restrictions on Tuesday.

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That will be too late for D2. But Dancey said she’s confident they made the right decision.

Still, she is concerned about the toll that repeated closure of fitness faculties is taking on the public.

“This pandemic has been very hard for people in that it has isolated everyone form each other. It’s taken away that sense of community and family and connection, and it’s led to mental health issues for people. It’s led to physical problems,” she said.

“Gyms and dance studios are so important for people’s physicals and mental health — given that this pandemic is so hard on people’s health, given this pandemic is so hard on people’s health, if you don’t give them outlets and areas where they can continue to take care of their health, what have you got? How can people be resilient?”

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While D2 is closing its Vancouver studio, Dancey said she and her husband Stephen have no plans to quit the dance business.

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Before opening their dance studio the couple focused on running dance events, such as the long-running Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Vancouver’s Robson Square.

When the latest wave of COVID cools, they will return their focus to the events side of their business.

“We will be back,” she said. “It’s not goodbye, we want to make that clear to our dance community, it’s just, ‘We’ll see you later.'”

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