Elite dancers believe they are being unfairly targeted by Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions
TORONTO -- Standing in her studio alone, 17-year-old competitive dancer Camille Spence is training, but the most recent lockdown means that she is forced to train by herself.
Next month she will graduate and Spence is fearful that the shutdown is unfairly shattering her community.
"This is my whole heart and soul," she says. "Not being able to be in there for my last year I'd definitely taking a toll on not only me but all of my friends and family.”
Spence's studio is called Dancers Burlington. Competing all over North America, they put in long hours at the studio daily.
Spence's teammate 19-year-old Natasha Camacho says that the studio is where she spent most of her youth.
"More than my home, more than school, I would be here. So in the pandemic, taking that away from you, it's like taking away my home,” she said.
After being closed for the third time, members who will graduate this year are acting, by sending a letter to the Premier.
17-year-old Katie Harness says, "We felt like we needed to express our opinions and our voice because we haven't had a chance to do so."
Like many dance studios, Dancers Burlington has been following strict protocol and to date there has not been a single case of COVID-19.
In the letter to the Premier they say, “Dance is not only our greatest passion but has now served as a coping mechanism through these times of uncertainty.”
They add, “Overall, we believe restricting participation in extracurricular activities is doing more harm than good.”
Under current restrictions, the only type of organized sport allowed are at the professional or Olympic level training.
Ford made the announcement last week that this would not be a full lockdown, leaving placed like malls open.
Ford said "It's not good for people's mental health they needed to get out. They needed fresh air. And we just have to get through the next four weeks.
Member of Dancers Burlington Madison Black says, that "really hit hard when he talked about the mental health of youth and that's why malls are staying open."
While Spence says, "If we were going to do a full lockdown that's fully understandable, and I think that would be very beneficial, for the current circumstances but it's very difficult for youth like us to understand being able to go and buy a pair of shoes but not go to dance class."
Owner of Dancers Burlington Stacey Spence say that this third lockdown is "having a larger impact on these kids because they know it could expend past 4 weeks."
CTV News Toronto contacted the Premiers office who put us over to the Ministry of Health, in a statement the Ministry said, “There are several risk factors that help drive the transmission of COVID-19. Close contact is the highest risk. Limiting these risks is critical to keeping Ontarians safe. Fitness and recreation facilities, and sports activities can present several unique issues for employees and users.”
So for now they remain closed. Unable to do what they love, in a place where they love to be.