Regina yoga studio one of the first small businesses to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination

As Saskatchewan prepares to lift COVID-19 public health measures on July 11, a Regina yoga studio says it will require proof of vaccination before students return to in-person classes next week.

Bodhi Tree Yoga has been providing online yoga classes since the beginning of the pandemic. The studio will welcome students back to in-person classes starting July 12, but first, clients will have to show they have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Colin Hall, co-owner of the Cathedral-area yoga studio, said the decision to require proof of vaccination was made on the same basis as moving classes online.

“(Going online) was not easy, it has not been enjoyable for any of us or any of our teachers, but we did that because we thought it was the best thing for our community,” said Hall.

Hall said people have worried about the health and safety of themselves and others throughout the pandemic, so he wanted to create a space where people can get together and relax.

“We wanted people to continue to have access to yoga, but we wanted to be able to provide that in a way that was as safe and as comfortable for people as possible,” he said.

Bodhi Tree Yoga posted its decision to Facebook Sunday morning. The post has more than 600 comments as of Monday evening. Though some of the comments have been negative, Hall said they are outnumbered by positive and supportive feedback.

ASKING FOR PROOF OF VACCINATION

Proof of vaccination requirements and vaccine passports have become hot-button topics as governments and businesses attempt to navigate a post-COVID-19 world.

Premier Scott Moe has said the province will not require proof of vaccination to attend events when restrictions are lifted, adding it could be “a potential violation of health information privacy.”

Hall said it’s his understanding Bodhi Tree Yoga is allowed to ask students to prove they have both shots as long as they don’t share the information with anyone.

Dwight Newman, a constitutional law professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said though businesses can implement their own measures when it comes to wearing masks, asking for a vaccination record could present a privacy issue.

“You’re talking about asking for people’s personal health information and they could argue that interferes in some way with their privacy,” said Newman.

Newman added if people aren’t able to get the COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical issue, they could argue a proof of vaccination policy that prevents them from accessing a business is discriminatory.

Hall said if people aren’t fully vaccinated, if they can’t get a vaccine or don’t feel comfortable going to in-person classes just yet, they can still participate in online classes at Bodhi Tree Yoga, which they will continue to offer.