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Cancel that OnlyFans subscription, buddy: The rippers are back!
Exotic dancers are slowly returning to the stages and laps of Toronto now that the city has entered Stage 3 of the province’s economic reopening plan.
Well, not the laps, exactly, unless a stripper and customer happen to belong to the same social circle or household.
Yes, it’s a whole new world for the adult entertainment industry, just like it is for every other type of business in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
At least five of Toronto’s top strip clubs have now resumed operations after shutting down under government orders in March, nearly five months ago, to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
While permitted to reopen as part of Stage 3, all bars and nightclubs, exotic or otherwise, must abide by strict social gathering limits and follow public health recommendations until further notice.
No more than 50 people are permitted inside any one business presently (the limit is 100 for outdoor gatherings) and all patrons must remain seated while eating or drinking within an establishment.
“Establishments must take appropriate measures to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres between patrons from different tables, unless separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier,” reads the province’s Stage 3 framework document.
“Dancing may only be performed by someone working at the establishment with restrictions.”
This means that dancing on stage is allowed, but guests can’t boogie to their favourite tunes if they happen to come over the loudspeaker.
There are also Toronto-specific rules that apply to all adult entertainment clubs, billiard halls, eating or drinking establishments, entertainment establishments, nightclubs or places of amusement.
Tables will have a maximum capacity of no more than 10 people, for instance, and business owners are required to keep customer logs with personal information to enable contact tracing.
Staff members are required to be screened for COVID-19 ahead of each shift and customers must remain seated at all times unless going to the washroom or paying.
And then there are masks: In compliance with Toronto’s Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw, all patrons must wear a mask while inside strip clubs, unless eating or drinking.
At least one club (House of Lancaster) says that lap dances are available, but both customers and staff members need to be masked the entire time.
“Any rules in place are those dictated by public health,” said Howard F. Adams, President of Filmores, on Tuesday. “So reservations are recommended, but contact tracing info will be collected from one person in each group.”
The gentlemen’s club inside the Filmores Hotel Complex (which is slated to become condos but says it won’t close anytime soon) opened yesterday for the first time since shutting down due to the pandemic.
Adams says that masks are now mandatory, unless patrons are eating or drinking, and that health screenings at the door include contactless temperature checks.
“No wandering around,” he warned. “You will be seated and must remain so.”
The iconic Brass Rail has reopened with similar rules, though customers report that dancers are going above and beyond to the point of wearing masks inside the club.
Brass Rail’s management did not reply to a request for comment in time for the publication of this article, but the club’s Instagram account states that “private and social distanced dancing” has been available since July 31.
House of Lancaster on Bloor Street West opened last Friday as well and appear to be so busy that they’re now hiring.
Neither Zanzibar nor For Your Eyes Only could be reached for comment, but neither have yet publicly announced plans to reopen after the long, mandatory closure period.
Flash on Church is hosting events, however, and the famous Club Paradise will officially reopen to the public this Thursday, Aug. 6. I’d joke about maybe seeing Drake there or something, but he just built what I’m pretty sure is a personal strip club inside his mansion.