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Regina hair salons, barbershops prepare for reopen amid PPE, training concerns

Regina hair salons, barbershops prepare for reopen amid PPE, training concerns
WATCH: Hair salons and barbershops can get back to business on May 19 but some say it's too soon.

As Saskatchewan prepares for Phase 2 of its reopen plan, professionals in Regina’s hair industry are readying for their versions of what business will look like in the new normal.

The provincial government announced in late April that salons and barbershops could reopen on May 19.

“I’m happy its happening, definitely, but I’m hesitantly cautious about it, which is good, I think,” said Jason Zalusky, owner and barber at Bluecore Barber Company.

“Having a good, solid fear of it is maybe going to make us all safer.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan to start reopening from the coronavirus pandemic on May 4

Since the announcement, the province has provided general guidelines for personal care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Among those are securing personal protective equipment (PPE) and adjusting physical spaces to allow for social distancing between clients where possible.

Other guidelines include clients attending appointments alone or waiting outside or in a socially-distanced seating area.

“We’re going to take all the precautions we can. If anything, we’re going to be overcautious.”

Businesses are also encouraged to find ways of minimizing client touch-points, and cleaning and disinfecting spaces regularly.

“We have to wear eye protection, we have to wear masks. We have to wear aprons we’ll wipe down and disinfect between clients,” Zalusky said.

“We had half-hour appointments, we have now moved them to 45-minute appointments just to give us time to disinfect our stations, our tools, our chairs.”

READ MORE: Some Saskatoon hairstylists say they won’t open at the start of phase 2

The business owner said he was able to source N95 masks from a truck supply company, and has managed to secure a solid stock of alcohol disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

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The five barbers at Bluecore were already spaced eight feet apart in the shop, prior to the pandemic. Each will now have multiple waterproof aprons to take off and disinfect throughout the workday.

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Zalusky said even though it’s not a requirement, his barbershop won’t offer straight-razor neck shaves for the next while, due to the nature of the service.

READ MORE: Alberta hairdressers concerned about reopening May 14

“When somebody is lying down, we’re leaning over them, we do exchange breath a lot. It’s just a risk we don’t want to take at this point,” he said.

“We’re going to take all the precautions we can. If anything, we’re going to be overcautious.”

Calls for more regulation, delayed reopen

While hair services can reopen May 19, many in Saskatchewan are holding off.

Clara Edvi owns The Make-up Lounge and Style Bar. She told Global News the business likely won’t reopen until Phase 3, which has no fixed date.

“We don’t really feel like there’s enough time between the phases, and we really want to make a well-informed decision and wait to see some of the [COVID-19 case] data come in,” Edvi said.
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READ MORE: Group of Alberta doctors writes open letter about ‘substandard,’ ‘inadequate’ PPE masks

“One of the biggest issues we’re having right now is actually getting the PPE itself. We can’t source it and financially we’re already seeing the price gauging.”

Edvi noted the industry also has no access, currently, to proper training on how to don and doff PPE.

When The Make-up Lounge and Style Bar does re-open, owner Clara Edvi says clients will be asked to wear a mask inside the business
When The Make-up Lounge and Style Bar does re-open, owner Clara Edvi says clients will be asked to wear a mask inside the business. File / Global News

“The last thing we want to see is salons opening too quickly, not enough time between phases, and then having an outbreak caused by a salon because we didn’t have that proper training,” she said.

Edvi’s concerns are being echoed by other Saskatchewan hair industry professionals, one of whom started an online petition to delay the reopening and demand clearer guidelines from the province.

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“Everyone is rushing around to find this. You have thousands of hair stylists looking for the exact same thing.”

The petition noted that delaying the reopening date would also allow hair industry employees to continue receiving federal income benefits while preparing for a new normal.

While announced first, Saskatchewan’s reopen date for hair services is now contending with other provinces making the same adjustments.

“Everyone is rushing around to find this. You have thousands of hairstylists looking for the exact same thing,” said Annette Quinlan, general sales manager for Salon Centre.

READ MORE: Retailers, restaurants not sold on Saskatchewan measures for reopening

The Canadian distribution company is now helping secure larger quantities of masks, in particular, to offset the costs for local salons.

“It’s not easy trying to hunt these things down right now, and make them obtainable in quantity as well as decent price-point,” Quinlan said.

Quinlan said the month of May will be a challenge, given the quick demand from multiple provinces; however, the company has found a consistent source of stylist PPE — a former hairbrush manufacturer — to begin supply in June.

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