Some Kingston, Ont., businesses reluctant to charge coronavirus fee

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WATCH: During the past few months, businesses across the country have been hit hard by the pandemic. Now, as some cautiously begin to reopen, they may choose to tack on an extra fee to customer’s bills – May 25, 2020

During the past few months, businesses across the country have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, as many have been ordered to close or are unable to operate as usual due to physical-distancing protocols.

Now, as some businesses cautiously begin to reopen, they may choose to tack on an extra fee to customers’ bills.

Steve Wallace, co-owner of Luce Hair Studio in Kingston, Ont., is not on board with the practice.

“I think it doesn’t make good business sense,” says Wallace.

Wallace says once his salons reopen, they will have to make changes, including adding barriers between clients, but an extra fee will not be one of them.

“A business still does have to cover some extra fees that we are going to be incurring, and I think it has to be done appropriately, not through a COVID fee,” he says.

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Some salons in Toronto and Vancouver have implemented a fee, saying the charge is meant to cover the cost of personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies. However, Wallace believes charging customers more could never make up for the financial loss they have already accumulated.

READ MORE: As B.C. businesses reopen, some charge COVID-19 fees to cover costs

Once they do reopen, Luce will ask clients to wear masks during their appointment to keep themselves and staff safe from contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“We’re going to have masks to provide for somebody who doesn’t show up with a mask, and there is going to be a small fee for that. I believe that’s appropriate because we are going to be encouraging our clients to bring their own masks in,” says Wallace.

Other sectors in the city, like the Kingston Club Hotel, agreed that the surcharge is not something they would consider; however, they believe that if businesses choose to implement the fee, they should be upfront about it.

“I wouldn’t look at introducing a fee but I wouldn’t begrudge businesses that are doing it as long as they are transparent about it,” says Sean Billing, managing partner of the Frontenac Club.

Jeff Alford, CEO of Cosmetic Brands of North America, says the company recently surveyed the public on whether they would be comfortable with paying an additional fee of $2 to $5 per customer.

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READ MORE: Are you willing to pay a COVID-19 surcharge?

“The public has shown that the vast majority of Canadians would be quite comfortable paying a safety fee if they see protocols being followed,” says Alford.

While Kingston businesses are still struggling financially, it appears that some, like Luce, would not be comfortable asking their customers to pay an extra fee.

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