A yoga studio in North Delta has had their license suspended after complaints they were not following the new state of emergency protocols.
Yesterday the owner of Bikram Yoga on 120th St. sent out an email encouraging people to visit the studio and take classes in contravention of the provincial state of emergency declaration.
“First off, we want to thank everyone that has been coming in and attending classes,” wrote owner Mak Parhar. “Fact – this supposed virus cannot survive in the heat. Fact – Bikram Hot Yoga is the best way to keep your immune system healthy and or best way to build and improve your immune system to fight flu’s, colds, bacteria and viruses.”
The post immediately set off a fire storm on social media with numerous complaints lodged with the City of Delta’s bylaw enforcement department.
“A bylaw inspector visited the business in the afternoon and found a class in progress,” said Hugh Davies, manager of property use and compliance. “The owner indicated he was planning to hold another class later in the day and was not prepared to voluntarily comply with a request to cancel classes in light of the state of emergency related to the spread of a potentially deadly virus.”
Davies said Mayor George Harvie, acting in the interest of the community and under the authority of the Emergency Provincial program, directed bylaw inspectors to revisit the business and suspend the current Delta business licence.
Davies said the business licence was subsequently suspended and the owner was provided with written notice.
“The owner did co-operate and comply with the suspension, and the evening class was cancelled,” Davies added.
In a post on Facebook, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon expressed frustration at the owner’s lack of judgment.
“Bikram Yoga in North Delta just sent this email blast to all there members and it is false. Certainly everyone hopes that warmer weather will help slow the spread of the virus as we move away from the cold and flu season, but to state as fact in order promote your business is not helpful in this crisis,” said Kahlon.
In a follow-up interview with the Optimist on Thursday morning, Kahlon said he also brought the matter to provincial health authorities.
"I just flagged the issue for the Ministry of Health and the Centre for Disease Control just so that they are aware that this organization was doing that," he said. "People should know that the mayor, our MP - we are all working together on these issues. I've spoken with Carla [Qualtrough] a few times, I speak with the mayor every day. We are fortunate that George Harvie, our mayor has experience in emergency management, so I feel we are in a good place as a community and we are strong as a community."
During Thursday’s provincial media update, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also said there was no truth to Parhar’s claims.
“Yoga studios are places where people are sweating next to each other — at least the ones I go to — and that is a perfect environment to spread this virus,” Henry said. “It's probably a misinterpretation of the fact that respiratory viruses like influenza, like some of the other coronaviruses that we've seen, tend to fade away when it gets warmer and we have increased amounts of ultraviolet light during the spring and summertime.”