Support and anger directed at Barrie businessman who opened salons during grey-lockdown

Christian Linkert says he understands the frustration

The sun did not set on Christian Linkert’s two tanning salons.

Linkert made the decision to keep his two businesses (The Sun Emporium) open during the grey-lockdown whatever punishment came his way.

“We were absolutely packed the entire week,” said Linkert. “It was incredible. We had every appointment booked.”

He said his choice to remain open in violation of lockdown rules that required salons, barbershops, fitness centres and some other business to close was about survival.

“It was either my doors closed and I never opened again, or I stayed open and kept going forward, and being able to pay my bills,” explained Linkert. “And as I said, this week with the turnout, I was definitely able to pay my bills.”

Despite two visits from Barrie bylaw officers during the week, Linkert was warned about the violations but never charged.

While he did get calls and in-person support from some small business owners, there were others who followed the grey-lockdown requirements who were not impressed by Linkert’s decision to remain open.

He said the bylaw officers passed on the message.

“They had said they had received countless complaints from both small business owners and the public that we open,” Linkert said.

He said he can’t be angry about it.

“I understand that it is the same thing how we were frustrated that Walmart was open and Costco was open. It’s kind of the same idea that when you have a small business owner that is effectively breaking the rules and whereas you’re staying closed and you’re struggling, it’s kind of understandable that you would receive those complaints.”

He said intense sanitization at his salons was the name of the game long before COVID. Linkert said everything that is touched gets cleaned including door handles, stools, tanning beds, debit machines and the products.

Moving to red zone on Monday is progress to Linkert, but he feels the next step is to accept that COVID-19 is not going anywhere and we have to adapt to it.

“We need to learn to run our businesses safely in a COVID world,” he explained. “I am all for playing by the rules in terms of making sure you have your mask and limiting the number of people that come into my salon or into any small business.”

The only way to book an appointment at his salons is by text or you don’t get in.

Linkert said what was different about this lockdown compared to previous ones in Simcoe-Muskoka was the reaction from the public.

“It was a lot more frustration from the public who didn’t understand the logic behind it, especially this time with gyms, restaurants and salons that were closed and were effectively being targeted in this lockdown.”