Sex clubs and bathhouses have officially reopened in Toronto and here are the rules
Ontario entering Step 3 marks a return to the closest form of "normal" any of us in Toronto has seen in well over a year — if not since before the pandemic first hit and threw us into lockdown mode.
Nightclubs, indoor restaurants and gyms are definitely hogging the spotlight right now as amenities allowed to reopen under Step 3, but so many other industries are similarly rebooting operations, including sex clubs and bathhouses.
Like any place where people gather in groups, these social venues must still follow strict health and safety protocols to operate as safely as possible amid (what we hope is) the tail end of the pandemic.
Grab a towel!— Kristyn Wong-Tam (@kristynwongtam) July 15, 2021
Bathhouses & sex clubs will be re-opening tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. Visit your favourite establishment online to check out the rules in advance.
Toronto Public Health has created a safe re-opening guideline for clients, workers and owners. https://t.co/X9MSnkol5k pic.twitter.com/WaYufYCsF8
Here, per the City of Toronto, are the (condensed and abridged) guidelines in place for staff and patrons of Toronto sex clubs and bathhouses under Step 3 of reopening in Ontario.
The city specifies that the number of guests inside any bathhouse or sex club must not exceed 25 per cent of regular capacity (0r 250 people, whichever is less.)
Not all premises will be able to hold 25 per cent capacity and still support physical distancing. In these cases, physical distancing takes precedent: Like most other indoor businesses, sex clubs and bathhouses need to ensure that there's enough space for all people to maintain a two-metre distance from one another.
Bathhouse and sex club operators are required to ensure that their employees keep a physical distance of at least two metres throughout the workplace and during eating and rest periods (e.g. lunchrooms, change rooms, washrooms).
Customers, however, have a different set of rules:
"Operators must ensure that patrons maintain two metres of physical distance from others, except when physical distancing cannot be maintained while participating in the activities for which patrons normally frequent bathhouses or sex clubs," reads the city's guide.
Masks, physical barriers, one-way paths, the removal of surplus furniture, visual floor markers, the closure of alternate lockers or showers, signs and taped-off seating are also recommended to help promote physical distancing.
Bathhouse and sex club operators must ensure that staff wear appropriate PPE, including surgical/procedure mask and eye protection (goggles or face shield).
"Additional PPE may be required for other roles within the workplace (e.g. providing first aid)," reads the guide. "Operators must determine when and what PPE is required, and ensure that it is worn by workers."
Patrons must wear a mask or face covering which covers their mouth, nose and chin "during any period in which they come within two metres of another person," unless any of the following exceptions apply:
Bathhouse and sex club operators must comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening employees and patrons, like every other business.
Patrons and staff must both complete health screening questionnaires upon arrival, before the enter the premises, but temperature checks "are not required, nor recommended" for anyone, according to Toronto Public Health.
Yup, contract tracing is back for anyone who enters an establishment in this category.
Operators are required to record the name, date, time and contact information of every person who visits, and must keep that data on record for 30 days to support public health contact tracing efforts.
"Patrons may be reluctant to provide their name and contact information due to concerns about privacy and stigma," notes the city.
"Inform patrons that this information is mandatory for entry into the bathhouse or sex club. Also, reassure patrons that their information will be kept confidential and secure, and only shared with Toronto Public Health in case contract tracing is required."
Bathhouse and sex club operators must prepare a safety plan, according to the city, describing all measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the establishment to reduce COVID-19 spread.
The plan must be in writing and made available to any person for review, upon request, and visible to workers and patrons.
Operators must "post a sign in a conspicuous location visible to the public" that states the capacity limits under which it can operate. They also put capacity limits on specific rooms within the venue to prevent overcrowding
Toronto public health is asking operators to post signs in high traffic areas within their establishments that tell people to "Wash Your Hands, Cover Your Cough, and Protect Yourself."
Hand sanitizer with at least a 70-90 per cent alcohol concentration must be available throughout the bathhouse, along with fully-stocked and well-supplied hand-washing facilities.
"Glove use is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene," reads the guide. "If employees use gloves it is important to change them every hour, or more often, as necessary (e.g. when changing tasks). When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time."
The city recommends that owners "implement rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection of all frequently touched surfaces, at least twice a day or more frequently, as needed."
All bathhouse and sex club areas accessible to the public, including bar areas, washrooms, locker rooms, showers, saunas, hot tub areas, movie rooms, and fitness areas, must be cleaned and disinfected "as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition."
Any shared equipment, tools or furniture that is shared must be disinfected regularly, including between users. These items are said to include but are not limited to: computer stations, cashier stations, debit/credit terminals, cleaning carts, fitness equipment, patron locks/keys, slings, benches, sofas, beds and gloryholes.
The bed, walls, lockers, doors and handles of private sex rooms should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Patrons should leave soiled linens in the room to avoid transporting them in public areas.
Same as every other place that allows for drinking, dining and dancing. Writes the city: "Bathhouses and sex clubs that serve food/or and drink, as well as those with dance facilities, need to review the Guidance for Restaurants, Bars, and other Food Service Premises."
In other words, you can eat and drink there under Step 3 regulations, as long as you're physically distanced.
As listed off in the city's guide, here are some overarching general measures owners of sex clubs and boathouses are encouraged to take:
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