It wasn't until a journalist decided to ask Premier François Legault about the reopening conditions of Montreal's strip clubs that we found out that these establishments would be allowed to resume business. The very nature of these clubs would suggest that social distancing and following the health guidelines is next to impossible. But for the owner of Stock Bar, Bobby Mowbray, his staff and his dancers are doing the best they can to provide a seamless experience despite the pandemic.
Stock Bar is one of Montreal's premier male strip clubs. Located in the heart of the Village, the club reopened on June 27 after nearly four months of shutdown.
"Our opening night on Saturday was surprisingly good with over 140 customers," said Mowbray.
"We had 12 dancers return the first night out of our 40. I would say 25% of the dancers were unsure if they would return the first week and maybe another 25% were not ready to come back for now."
Mowbray's staff seemed quite surprised by how fast Stock Bar reopened under the circumstances.
"It's nothing like a traditional summer," he underlined.
Approximately 60% of Stock Bar's business relies on tourism, and with the borders closed, all Mowbray can hope for is a good summer until more restrictions are lifted.
"As more dancers return to work and more people find out we are open we have a chance to have a good summer."
Under the current rules, Stock Bar had to remove 65 out of its 130 tables and chairs.
Mowbray notes that his staff have the option of wearing face masks or visors, which he provides for them. The dancers, however, opt not to wear masks.
With several private dance cabins, the idea of social distancing seems laughable in a strip club.
But, Mowbray is heavily enforcing strict "no-contact" rules for all customers and dancers.
"The simple answer to everyone is: there are no-contact dances. We monitor the room throughout the night to make sure dancers and customers are respecting the rule."
Customers sanitize their hands when they enter the club and only groups of 10 can be seated together.
"We try to sanitize seats and tables as customers leave so they are ready for the next customer," he said.
"We are doing the best we can do under the circumstances."
Until restrictions on social distancing are lifted, the no-contact rule will continue to be non-negotiable for Mowbray.
"Despite that, the customers that have been here so far seem to have a good time."
Though the business is slowly returning to normal, Mowbray worries about how many people seem to flout the suggested mask-wearing.
"I do not understand why people do not wear masks. That is my main concern in our bar," he explained.
"I will be 64 years old next month, and to be honest I am worried about my own health. I understand this is inconvenient for everyone, but I think it's necessary."