It seems that we’re going to be forced to change the rules around who can come to the shala because of the delta variant. We were hoping to open for everyone with 2-metre social distancing but, because we’re included in the same group with restaurants and pubs, we can only allow students who are fully vaccinated against Covid to attend.
It’s so, so disappointing. With equal access to in-person classes for everyone just on the horizon, we’re forced again to put restrictions in place.
As I’m sure you know, the case numbers have increased dramatically in the last few days and the number of people in hospital has doubled over the last month or so. I suppose that, in the context of complete uncertainty by the experts as to what the final outcome of this variant will be, it makes sense to be cautious. But it’s a bitter pill to swallow for us and (if you’re not fully vaccinated) maybe for you too. I know many of you were planning to continue with the online classes anyway, so it won’t matter so much to you right now. We really were looking forward to seeing everyone again at the shala though. It’s been way too long. Way, way too long!
The vaccinations are being done at speed now and in six weeks or so I think that all adults who want a vaccine will have been given two doses. Also, if there’s no increase in serious illness from this variant, maybe the government will decide to allow unvaccinated people indoors for classes sooner than that. Meanwhile, if you like, put the date in your diary for the day that you’ll be fully vaccinated and maybe even book yourself into a class on that day (you can book classes up to 60 days in advance).
I want you all to know that this is a decision which is not easy for us and that it’s not a matter of personal preference. We sat down and discussed this decision at length and have come to the conclusion that we’re not expert enough to disregard the advice of the scientists on this matter. We have a duty of care to everyone who comes to the shala and, at the end of the day, we’re relying on the experts to tell us what is and isn’t safe. Of course we can disagree with the advice but, in the end, we can’t risk the health and wellbeing of any of you just because we think we know better.
I know some other yoga studios will open for everyone and I absolutely do not judge them for that. It’s been so hard to stay afloat during the pandemic. It’s really depressing to still be in this situation. The shala has been closed for 65 of the last 70 weeks. To see something that you’ve worked long and hard to build just slip through your fingers is so painful. But for now, we’re going to follow the advice from our government. Fingers crossed it will come back soon.
To end on a positive note, maybe as a vaccinated person you will feel safer coming to the shala knowing that the risk is now very low because everyone there will be fully vaccinated.
Also, I feel like it might be possible to reduce the social distancing requirements at the shala, as they are doing in pubs and restaurants. The rules for the hospitality sector will be that six people can sit at a table together and that the tables must be just 1 metre apart. Obviously, we can’t get 6 people on a yoga mat but maybe we’ll be able to have the mats 1 metre apart instead of 2. That would allow us to fit 14 or 15 people per class. That’s enough to get a real buzz going! I’ll keep you all posted though because we don’t know about that yet.