It’s been nearly three months since Kingston, Ont., saw its largest COVID-19 outbreak.
Thirty-seven cases were linked to several local nail salons. Of that number, 33 were connected to Binh’s nail salon, according to KFL&A Public Health.
The owner of the nail salon, Binh Nguyen, sat down with Global News to reflect on the last few months and the damage inflicted.
“I’m so sorry. I apologize to the community for what happened,” said Nguyen.
Binh’s Nail Salon was not fined by public health, despite public health finding several deficiencies in their operations, including allowing some employees to come into work while they were symptomatic.
Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, said the forced closure of the business and the damage done to their reputation would be penalty enough for Binh’s.
The damage stretched further than just the west-end nail salon. A local restaurant and a fashion boutique say they were forced to shut their doors after employees tested positive for the virus and were linked to Binh’s nail salon.
“I was the one who tested positive — it was tough,” said Tiziana Marini, the owner of Expressions Fashion Boutique.
She says in mid-June, she received a call from a panicking customer saying she had contracted the virus from Binh’s salon and had been in the boutique recently.
Marini soon after closed her store and went to the Leon’s Centre assessment centre to get tested, where she later found out she was positive for COVID-19.
Expressions Fashion Boutique wasn’t alone.
The Rustic Spud Restaurant and Catering also closed its doors after management says an employee tested positive, a case that was connected to Binh’s.
“Financially, it’s been a nightmare. We’re just hanging on by a thread,” said Scott Lattimore the managing partner for the Rustic Spud.
For both Marini and Lattimore, they closed their business days after the province announced Stage 2 of reopening. This allowed for businesses like theirs to welcome customers back after the multi-month lockdown.
“We’ve already suffered enough with closures prior to this. So this was just another shot to the side that we certainly didn’t need,” said Lattimore.
The Rustic Spud and Expressions Boutique reopened in mid-July.
According to Lattimore, the restaurant has built a strong customer base, and they’ve returned even after several closures.
The same can be said for Marini’s store.
“We have been so busy. I can’t even tell you the love and support from the customers,” said Marini as she began to tear up.
As for Binh’s nail salon, business is also struggling, said Nguyen. She says she can no longer afford employees — relying on family members to help around the salon until customers return.
“I think everyone, they scared,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen is not planning on closing the salon after seven years in business and hopes her customers will trust that she is following all public health guidelines.