As nightclubs and banquet halls remain closed, an Abbotsford swingers club has resumed operations, saying their COVID-19 precautions are stringent enough to protect guests from transmitting the virus.
Club Passion calls itself a “lifestyle club” and has advertised multiple events since the end of August. The club has developed COVID-19 precautions, encourages the use of masks, and says it’s abiding by health guidelines.
But it also has indoor areas for socialization and continues to operate an “orgy room” at a time when health authorities have closed down nightclubs and begged people to limit socialization and reduce the number of close contacts outside one’s immediate family.
And it’s unclear what oversight exists regarding the facility because, despite charging for admission and describing the presence of “staff” on site, it has neither a personal health licence from Fraser Health nor a business licence from the City of Abbotsford.
Multiple people have contacted The Abbotsford News with worries about the continued operation of the site. (The News was not aware of, and did not receive any complaints about, the club before COVID-19 hit.)
The club’s COVID-19 precautions say social “bubbles” can only include a maximum of six people, and that two people from different bubbles must wear masks if they get within two metres of one another.
“The Passion Club upholds the safety and preventative standards that have been recommended to us by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and other local health departments,” the operators of the club said in an email to The News. “To support the provincial effort, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure our members’ safety by adapting and controlling our venue’s usual practices.”
The email stated that the temperatures of guests and their contact information are taken at the door, and only six people are allowed in any one private area. They say they have also created no-stopping areas and encourage guests to practise social distancing.
The operators didn’t explain how bubbles are determined or what parameters are in place to ensure group sex complies with COVID-19 guidelines.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said people should limit the number of non-family members they socialize with to six people. But those six people, Henry has said, must be consistent and cannot change regularly.
In their email to The News, the operators wrote: “Since the club’s creation, we have worked with local health agencies to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for our community. In today’s ever-changing environment, our commitment to engage in safe practices is ensured by the leadership and passion of our management team.”
A Fraser Health spokesperson wrote that Fraser Health regulates businesses that serve food or operate a personal service establishment, and that other businesses with municipal licences can operate as long as they have a COVID-19 plan. The spokesperson wrote that “all businesses are expected to follow public health orders.”
A Ministry of Health spokesperson deferred to Fraser Health for comment. A City of Abbotsford said the organization does not have a business licence.
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