Only one type of business is still not allowed to open in Ontario-Oxygen Bar

The oxygen bar is one of the first things Julie Baker sees when she walks into her spa. Since the beginning of the pandemic, its chairs have been empty, the lights have gone out, and customers have been blocked by homemade signs of closure.

“It looks a little sad, but this is how it must be kept,” said Baker, who runs the Gold Tan & Sunset Spa on the border between Mississauga and Oakville in Ontario.

Bill Campbell of the Ontario Ministry of Health said in an email that oxygen bars like Baker are the “only companies that need to be closed” in the current Ontario reopening plan.

Ontario allows all other types of businesses to open-from public steam baths and saunas to buffets. Some still have restrictions such as mandatory shielding and capacity restrictions.

Campbell said that the oxygen bar is “a high risk of spreading COVID-19,” which cannot be “alleviated by taking additional precautions or measures.”

Under normal circumstances, oxygen bar customers will sit down, put a disposable tube in their nose, and breathe oxygen to relax the body and mind and benefit muscles and hangover recovery and other health benefits. This has been controversial.Canadian Association of Respiratory Therapists Once a statement is made Saying that it cannot “morally or morally support” oxygen therapy for people who don’t need it, calling for “strict regulations.”

Baker has a question, and she cannot get answers from the local health department or the provincial government. She said that customers can even wear a mask while using her oxygen bar.

“They just said it was high risk, but they didn’t give us a reason,” she said. “None of them really add up, and none of them are really fair…They don’t really understand.”

In Ontario, oxygen bars are mainly operated as part of other businesses, such as spas. There is even one in a nightclub in London, Ontario. These places are allowed to open, but the oxygen bar is not open. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP via Getty Images)

She explained that she can now perform facial treatments, and sometimes the masks of customers are completely removed. “But they are not allowed to sit alone and breathe in oxygen.”

CBC contacted all 34 health departments in Ontario to see if there are any other closures or restrictions other than the province’s only insistence on reopening. Almost everyone replied; except for the oxygen bar, there was no closure anywhere.

No one seems to know how many oxygen bars there are in Ontario or how many people they employ. Most health units do not know that there are any oxygen bars in their area; Toronto Public Health says it does not track oxygen bars, the Ministry of Health does not have any information, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce cannot obtain data.

A Google search revealed several oxygen bars in Ontario that are part of other businesses such as spas and tanning salons. There is even one in a nightclub in London, Ontario. According to Ontario’s reopening rules, other parts of the business are allowed to operate, but the oxygen bar cannot be operated.

‘High risk spread’

Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, the continued closure is meaningful to Rebecca Shalansky, a fourth-year resident of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Toronto.

“For respiratory viruses, if you put something directly into the respiratory system, it will be a high-risk transmission situation.”

Since few people have studied how much COVID can spread from oxygen bars, Shalansky believes that the province may have made a mistake in caution.

Before allowing the oxygen bar to open again, she hopes to see very few COVID cases and very high vaccination rates.

CBC contacted the health departments of all provinces and territories and received all responses except New Brunswick. Only Manitoba mentions that it also does not allow the use of oxygen bars, which are in the same order as hookahs or other types of water pipes. All three regions reported no oxygen bars.

The oxygen bar ban surprised Rick McVika. He didn’t know that Ontario was temporarily shutting down the oxygen bar.

McVicar runs an oxygen bar company in British Columbia and is a board member of the North American Recreational Oxygen Association (ROANA).

Rick McVicar didn’t know that Ontario was closing oxygen bars. He ran an oxygen bar company in British Columbia, and business began to recover. “When I found out that Ontario just said,’No, we don’t do this’, I was confused.” (Submitted by Rick McVicar)

During the pandemic, business dried up, but he has been busy developing COVID-19 safety guidelines for the oxygen bar, including cleaning, disinfecting, disinfecting equipment and setting up plexiglass barriers.

“if [Ontario] Knowing something I don’t know, I would love to hear their opinions and find out what it is…because we need to implement it in our security plan. “

‘It hurts us’

Spencer Smith has put his oxygen bar equipment in the warehouse, and it is currently “collecting dust.” This is usually part of his business, the Immerse Health Center in Kingston, Ontario, which provides floatation therapy and cold water therapy.

Customers could combine floating with a visit to the oxygen bar. But this is not allowed now.

“It hurts us, I won’t lie,” he said. “I think this is a very good safety net that the government has in many cases. In this case, it is better to proceed with caution than to seek a better tomorrow.

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Smith thinks it is ironic that COVID-19 patients are given oxygen in the hospital, but he does not allow people to use his oxygen bar. He knew that these were two very different situations, and that he was not a medical staff, but still so.

He didn’t know when he could be allowed to turn on the oxygen bar again. CBC asked the Ministry of Health about the timetable, but has not yet responded.

“Like everything in 2020-2021, it gets hurt in the strangest way,” Smith said.

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