Jalen LaRue, 7, receives a hair cut from Cary Olson at Advance Cut Barbershop and Hair Salon on Monday, May 25, as personal services are allowed to reopen in B.C. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake barbers, stylists, customers adjust to COVID-19 protocols

Barbers, hairstylists and their clients have been adjusting to new COVID-19 protocols as they reopen under the second phase of B.C.'s restart plan.

Barbers, hairstylists and their clients have been adjusting to new COVID-19 protocols as they reopen under the second phase of B.C.’s restart plan.

“We are only taking clients by appointment,” said Rick Vreeman, of Advance Cut Barbershop Monday.

Vreeman had a 50-pack of disposable masks on hand he’d ordered as his clients must wear masks.

A notice on the front desk notes at this time the shop cannot do beard or eyebrow trims and no one can come into the shop with food or drinks.

Anyone with a runny nose, fever or cough is asked to reschedule their appointment and only clients are permitted in the shop, unless they need assistance.

Colt Barber Shop and Men’s Spa owner Christine Fernandez is asking customers to bring gloves and masks and has set her own protocols.

Similar to Vreeman, she said each station has to be sanitized and the chairs have to be sprayed down.

“You are supposed to have a fresh cape per customers so I’ve ordered several extra,” Fernandez said, noting her shop space is large that physical distancing between customers is easier.

“We are also in an industry where it is very difficult to social distance because you are right in people’s personal space when you are doing their hair.”

Being closed for two months has been tough, and since reopening it has been ‘crazy’ busy.

“We’ve got women calling us that are desperate, we’ve got COVID cuts to fix, we’ve got people whose clippers are bogging out here,” she said.

READ MORE: Haircuts top of mind as restrictions ease

“It’s just complete mayhem. People are getting irritable because they cannot get in right away and because we are charging an extra $10 surcharge during COVID to offset all the extra costs.”

Notices have to be posted on the door outlining a shop’s safety meaures.

At Country Cottage Hair Styling there is a poster on the door with a bright red stop sign outlining new salon protocols.

A basket at the door holds hand sanitizer that must be used, and customers are told not to enter without a mask.

Country Cottage owner Lisa Warnock said clients and stylists both must wear masks in her shop. She added it has been a challenging time preparing to reopen and that hair stylists are in high demand right now.

Inside of her shop Monday, one of the stylists was colouring a client’s hair and said she tried doing her work with gloves but it is not possible. Her client said she appreciated being able to get to the hairdresser after two months of waiting.

Inside another barber shop, one of the stylists was wearing a mask and one was not. Customers were sitting apart as physical distancing measures were in place, but they were not wearing masks either.

Ivy Yuen, media relations for WorkSafeBC, said WorkSafeBC has launched a province-wide inspection initiative to ensure that employers are keeping their workers safe as they re-open.

“WorksafeBC has released safety protocols for employers in personal services returning back to operations.”

The safety protocols are divided into four levels, Yuen explained.

The first level is maintaining safe physical distances between workers and the public.

If that is not always easy to maintain, then the second level is to install barriers such as plexiglass. The third level of protection is to establish rules around cleaning, not sharing tools, or implementing one-way doors or walkways.

“If the first three levels of protection aren’t enough to control the risks, supply workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as non-medical masks. PPE should not be used as the only control measure. It should only be used in combination with other measures,” Yuen added.

Employers do not need a formal plan in place to begin operation, but are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of workers.

WorkSafeBC Prevention Officers will, however, begin a province-wide verification and inspection initiative to ensure that employers have their plans in place and are keeping their workers safe.

Prevention officers can be reached at 1-888-621-7233 if anyone has concerns.

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