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COVID-19: CMTBC recommendation that RMTs suspend practice continues until further notice

On March 17, 2020, CMTBC made a strong recommendation to RMTs that they cease practice for a two-week period and re-evaluate the situation at the end of that period. At that time, it was not clear whether physical distancing measures would remain in force past the two-week period.

It is now clear that these measures will extend well beyond two weeks.

On March 23, 2020, Dr. Henry issued a letter of expectation to regulated health professionals, including RMTs (PDF). The first expectation in the letter is that “All non-essential and elective services involving direct physical contact with patients and clients should be reduced to minimal levels, subject to allowable exceptions, until further notice.”

The College’s careful review of the March 23, 2020 letter from Dr. Henry concluded that CMTBC must maintain its position that RMTs should not practice, until otherwise notified. Factors that have informed this position include:

  • The impossibility of maintaining physical distancing during massage therapy.
  • The significant risk of transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which can happen either from the patient to the massage therapist or vice-versa, during services involving direct physical contact.
  • The fact that RMTs may not be in possession of what would be considered appropriate personal protective equipment.

Read CMTBC’s March 24 news story to review guidance provided to RMTs about Dr. Henry’s letter. RMTs may contact CMTBC for guidance regarding an “allowable exception” in a case where an RMT considers that treatment of a patient would fully meet Dr. Henry’s criteria – as specified in her March 23rd letter – for “emergent, urgent and/or essential care… to avert or avoid negative [patient] outcomes”.

On March 27, 2020, Dr. Henry presented COVID-19 modelling scenarios for BC that show that public health measures have reduced the rate of growth of COVID-19 cases in BC. However, Dr. Henry emphasized that there continue to be steady increases in community transmission cases and concern about outbreaks, and she and BC Health Minister Adrian Dix asked every person in British Columbia to be “100% committed to physical distancing” and stated that “we must be united in this one goal.”

This is a critical time in BC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CMTBC reiterates its strong recommendation that RMTs not practice unless and until otherwise notified.

As the Provincial Health Officer provides new guidance, CMTBC will interpret that guidance for RMTs. Please check the College’s website regularly for updates.

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