toronto massage

Here are the rules around getting a massage during Toronto's lockdown

Toronto and Peel Region this week saw a swift end to dining out on patios, working out in gyms, hanging out with friendsshopping in-store at non-essential retailers, and accessing things like haircuts as part of the most restrictive form of lockdown in the province, which came into effect in the two COVID hotspots early Monday morning.

And though some of the new measures that came into place have been clear and easy to understand, the Grey zone of pandemic lockdown has seemed to have a lot of grey areas in residents' eyes, leaving some quite confused about what they're actually allowed to do in cases like massages and other personal care services.

Malls are closed, but customers can still go inside them to pick up pre-purchased goods. You're not supposed to hang out indoors with anyone but those you live with, but are allowed to do so if you live alone or are attending an organized event like a wedding. Businesses deemed non-essential must close, unless they're a big box store selling certain items — something Premier Doug Ford admitted isn't fair.

Basically, things have been a bit unclear with Ontario's new colour-coded reopening framework, and not just for Toronto and Peel, either. We've even been getting mixed messages from officials, adding to the ambiguity.

Thankfully for registered massage therapists (RMTs), they are not actually included under the umbrella of  "personal care services," all of which must be shuttered in regions in the Grey zone, according to provincial orders — something that Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams wasn't actually aware of when asked about the issue earlier in the week.

This point is, confoundingly, despite the fact that the Canadian government defines the industry group as "establishments primarily engaged in providing personal care services, such as hair care and esthetic services, hair replacement and scalp treatment services, massage services, diet counselling services and ear piercing services."

But, RMTs do fall under those groups that are professionally regulated by a college, such as The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, along with people like optometrists, physical and occupational therapists, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists and even nurses providing medical services such as lip injections.

As the above college notes on social media, though, the ability to provide said permitted services may be hindered by the closure of non-essential businesses like spas.

And, they are subject to the same rules all businesses are, including mandatory masking, ramped up sanitization, capacity limits and more.

Even though massages were banned in the region's first severe lockdown back in the spring and are not mentioned in the newest spate of provincial guidelines, you are free to book in with your massage therapist during the next 28 days of restrictions — though you still can't shop at your favourite local business or eat a meal on a patio at your struggling neighbourhood bar or restaurant. 

That is, unless you're eating at Adamson Barbecue.

Lead photo by

Toa Heftiba


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