COVID-19 may kill off London's last remaining strip clubs

COVID-19 may kill off London's last remaining strip clubs

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“That is possible, but we have to take into consideration whether they’re operating or actively looking for an alternative location,” he said. “It all depends on them.”

Golddiggers tried to relocate from its east-end digs to a commercial plaza at 802 Exeter Rd. two years ago, but city politicians opposed the move.

None of the three London strip clubs’ owners responded to a request for comment.

The Beef Baron erected an outdoor sign taking aim at the province for giving it less than a day’s notice to close and putting people out of work.

The future of strip clubs looks bleak in a time of social distancing when bars and nightclubs have been singled out as high-risk locations for spreading COVID-19.

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Unlike many restaurants and bars that drew customers to patios over the summer, strip clubs struggled to lure clientele back to outdoor spaces after closing in mid-March. The Beef Baron set up a patio behind construction fencing in its parking lot, but dancers weren’t allowed to perform outside.

Strip clubs welcomed back customers in August when Ontario entered Stage 3, allowing bars and nightclubs to reopen under enhanced safety precautions, such as physical distancing and mandatory masks for staff.

Shortly after, hundreds of patrons at Toronto’s Brass Rail Tavern were urged to get tested after an employee contracted COVID-19, but public health officials could only reach a third of them because many had given false contact tracing information.

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The head of the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) said she’d like to see fewer strip clubs in the city.

“My experience . . . has shown that strip clubs exploit women,” executive director Megan Walker said.

“What we’ve seen in this community is a natural reduction in strip clubs because there is not as much business. . . . Their customer base has been reduced significantly over the past several years.”

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