The long wait for a coveted haircut came to an end last week as the Provincial government gave the go-ahead on Tuesday, May 19 for salons and barbershops to begin reopening.
Originally expected to occur on June 1, this sudden news has been welcomed by customers and hairdressers alike as salons, beauty parlours and barbershops open their doors to customers. However, this is not business as usual and there are now often new rules and procedures in place, including at hairdressers in 100 Mile House.
One of the places that jumped at the chance to reopen was JD’s Salon according to the manager and receptionist Karen Lawrence. While she herself does no haircutting whatsoever, she said her friend and boss, Diane Timmons, and her team of seven employees were very excited to be getting back to work on Wednesday, May 20.
“I’ve been here for over 20 years,” Lawrence said. “I enjoy the people, the staff and the public. I love my job.”
Lawrence said they’ve been closed down ever since the government ordered salons to be closed back in March. Lawrence and Timmons only returned after two months when they were given the go-ahead to begin preparing to reopen. Together the two did a comprehensive clean of the business in preparation for reopening.
Their new policy is that they require most clients to book appointments ahead of time and are asked to wear a mask, which Lawrence said they can supply if needed, and can also wear gloves if they like. No one is to arrive at the salon before their appointed time, she added, as with no waiting room they can’t be left sitting around, which she manages personally.
“If the girls have time, as long as they’re following the protocol with clients that are coming in as walk-ins, we won’t turn them away. Everyone needs a haircut,” Lawrence said.
If there are more than one or two customers getting their hair done at once, she said they ensure proper social distancing and spacing are in place. Each of their hairdressers’ stations has been spread six feet apart and only two of them can use their sinks at any one time.
Between each client, Lawrence said their girls are required to sanitize their workstations including their chairs, tools and everything else they use. Plexiglass has also been installed at the front counter and at their nail tech’s station to give an added layer of protection.
On Thursday, May 21, Lawrence said she was interviewed by a Worksafe BC Representative about what precautions they were taking to make people safe and upon hearing of them said, “Wow! You guys passed with flying colours.”
“It feels great to be reopened and 100 Mile, the public has been amazing. We’ve had a couple of people say I ain’t wearing no mask and well you don’t get a haircut,” Lawrence said. “I have to go home to my family as so do all of the girls here and everyone coming through the door wants to be safe.”
Their clients so far have been very appreciative of them being open and some have even brought them flowers, which Lawrence said is a really good feeling. Their services have been in high demand so far with lots of cuts, colours and other appointments being booked well in advance via phone calls.
Some hairdressers, however, while happy to be back to work have been less than pleased by the government’s handling of their industry. Deborah Scott, the owner and proprietor of Your Cutting Room Hair Salon, may only have established herself in 100 Mile House a year ago but has decades of experience working in the hair and aesthetic services industry.
Scott is a self-described straight shooter who would rather avoid beating around the bush on the issues of COVID-19 and the impacts of the shutdown. COVID-19 is a danger she sacrificed her business to stop for six weeks straight but now as restrictions are lifted the lack of guidance on how to reopen has left her frustrated.
She dislikes the lack of clear guidelines and leadership from the government on how businesses like her own should reopen. It seems to Scott that each business is left to make up their own reopening plan with little government direction beyond keeping clean and doing your best to social distance.
“They closed us down, said it was too dangerous for us to work. Then six weeks, eight weeks later, they said ‘Uhh, no, my bad, you just make up your own rules, post them on the door and we may or may not come by to check,'” Scott said, sarcastically adding. “Stay six feet away, which I think is really hilarious because I’m just going to spend 45 minutes running my fingers through your hair but I’ll stand six feet away.”
Her irritation also comes from the fact that unlike most salons and barbershops her business is a one-woman show meaning that, long before COVID-19, only one other person would ever be in her space to begin with, typically on an appointment basis. In that regard, it’s business as usual for her business with her taking the added precaution to question people on where they’ve been, if they feel they’ve been exposed and sanitizing the door handles after each customer.
“I take as many precautions as I can to keep you safe, so I appreciate you then telling me the truth when you book an appointment,” Scott said. “The least you can do is give us a heads-up and let us decide what our comfort level is.”
In her opinion, when it comes to cleaning between customers, that should already have been common practise amongst the industry as it’s a standard she herself has long held herself to since attending hairdressing school. As to wearing PPE Scott said she will be wearing a mask if her clients request her to and requests that her clients do the same if they feel uncomfortable, even having homemade masks on hand for them to buy.
As a whole, going forward, Scott said she intends to maintain her old high standards with some new additional practices while maintaining the use of common sense. She’d also like to call on her fellow hairdressers to not use any new practices as an excuse to gouge their customers.