Maybe you saw some red balloons at hair salons and spas around Barrie today, or maybe you saw the hashtag #FordFailsBeauty crop up in your social media browsing. Both are aimed at drawing attention to the fact hair salons, barbers and spas have only been permitted to open for a handful of days this year.
Sharon Smith of Connect Hair Studio in Barrie is among the participants in this peaceful protest against the province’s requirement that personal care services remain closed amid the pandemic. She says the restrictions are taking a toll. “We miss our clients. We just want to be back at work. Do you realize that we have been allowed to open less than 40 days this year? Our friends in Toronto region have not been allowed to open for a whole year. This is heartbreaking.,” she told Barrie 360.
“Hairstyling is one of 23 regulated trades in Ontario, with around 35,000 licensed professionals. No data has been provided to support closing salons, barbers and spas because of the spread of the virus,” she added, indicating the closure of these services has created an underground industry, that there are some violating the rules under the table.
Smith says the personal care industry has worked hard to provide a safe environment for its clients. “More stringent health method measures are in place and have been since day one. Staff are specially trained in sanitizing procedures and safety protocols. All other regulated trades are still working.” Smith claims the personal service industry generates some $7 billion for the national economy, but points out there is another benefit to reopening salons. “Let’s face it, great hair and skin and body helps good mental health.”
Hair salons and other personal care services are slated to reopen in the second of three steps the provincial government has laid out. Tied to vaccination rates, step two would come into play when 70 per cent of the population have gotten their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20 per cent have gotten their second. It is expected Ontario will reach these milestones by July.