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Kelowna fitness studio mistaken for gym caught up in COVID controversy

Last Updated Apr 15, 2021 at 11:46 am PDT

FILE - The owner of Move and Flow in Kelowna says her business has been mistaken for a martial arts studio that was refusing to take membership applications from people who had received COVID-19 vaccines. (Courtesy Move and Flow)

Owner of Move and Flow says her business is not the one that was refusing applications from vaccinated people

Flow Academy Martial Arts Club has made false claims about COVID-19 vaccines

City of Kelowna says it's received complaints about Flow Academy Martial Arts Club not following COVID rules

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – A fitness studio in Kelowna is trying to set the record straight as it continues to receive hateful messages, calls, and emails over what appears to have been a case of mistaken identity.

Flow Academy Martial Arts Club made headlines this week after a post on its website said it wouldn’t take membership applications from people who were vaccinated against COVID-19, falsely claiming there are unknown health effects that would not be covered by its liability insurance.

That move prompted some people to direct their anger and outrage towards Move and Flow, a fitness studio, also in Kelowna.

“It’s definitely been a challenging time for all small businesses,” owner Sara Green Eddy told NEWS 1130.

She says people have been calling to unload on her, asking her “what gives you the right to have that policy and exclude people who are vaccinated?”

“Saying that we’re unsafe and not following medical advice and things like that,” she explained, adding one person even caller her up to say they hoped she would get COVID-19.

But she stresses her fitness studio — Move and Flow — is not the same as Flow Academy.

“Our names sound a bit common but we’re not affiliated with them at all. We’re not the same business, and we’ve been working really hard to follow all the requirements since COVID started to keep everybody safe and to be able to stay in business,” she said.

City of Kelowna receives complaints about martial arts club

The City of Kelowna confirms it received a complaint about Flow Academy Martial Arts Club a few weeks ago, saying that the business was not following provincial health orders.

Lance Kayfish, who works with city leadership on pandemic response, says after closer review, it turned out the martial arts club did not have a business licence.

“They were prompted of course to apply for a business licence, at which point we received their application and denied that business licence because they were not in compliance with current provincial health orders,” he explained.

At this time, Kayfish says the city is looking at and considering what other enforcement options it has.

He notes the city is also reaching out to partners, including Interior Health, the RCMP, and WorkSafeBC.

“We understand that this is a bit of a more complex file and there’s an obvious, blatant disregard in this case for the provincial health orders. We think it’s best to work with our partners on a coordinated approach,” Kayfish added.

The city continues to urge people and businesses to follow current guidelines.

Kayfish admits it can be frustrating for those who are following the rules to see others flout them and show “blatant disregard” for the orders.

“We, like everyone else at the City of Kelowna, are looking forward to the future when this pandemic is done, and we can get back to normal — or the new normal — and that’s only going to occur if we all come together and do our part,” he said.

Interior Health confirms it issued Flow Academy an order and ticket for non-compliance in February.

“Additional follow-up is taking place because of ongoing concerns and additional complaints. We have also been consulting with the city and the RCMP,” a statement from the health authority reads.

It tells NEWS 1130 “there is no public health basis for a policy excluding people who are immunized against COVID-19.”

“All businesses need to follow public health orders and adult group activities are not currently allowed,” the statement adds. “Where businesses can operate within public health orders, they are still required to have COVID-19 safety plans in place to prevent transmission and protect patrons and staff. IH will follow-up with any business that is not in compliance and take appropriate actions, which can include fines and closures.”