Moncton spa owner says closures in orange zones ‘unfair’

Fabiola Bloquel, co-owner of Namaste Spa in Moncton . Shelley Steeves/Global News

The owner of Namaste Spa in Moncton isn’t feeling very zen after the province’s decision to move the region to the orange level of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

“Inside we are, like, broken that this was happening again,” said Fabiola Bloquel who co-owns the spa in the city’s downtown.

Last Friday, when the Moncton and Campbellton areas reverted back to the orange level, Bloquel says she was forced to shut down much of her business for the second time in just over six months.

“Nails, pedicures and facials and body treatments. We are not allowed to do that,” she said.

Read more: Outbreak declared at Campbellton care home as more cases reported in N.B.

As a result, Bloquel said she was forced to send home 10 of her staff who perform esthetic services.

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“We are family and so it is really heartbreaking to talk to the girls and let them know they cannot come in,” said Bloquel.

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“It is unfair for us,” she said, given that bars and restaurants and even strip clubs remain open.

The Cosmetology Association of New Brunswick’s executive director, Gaye Cail, said 1,700 of its members in the Moncton region, also known as Zone 1, were forced to shut down last week. She, too, called the restrictions placed on the industry by the province unfair.

“I think that the government was a little hasty in shutting them down,” said Cail.

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Coronavirus: New Brunswick reports six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – Oct 13, 2020

Given that the organization’s members have been following strict sanitation protocols set out by the department of health since May, Cail believes personal care facilities should be allowed to stay open as long as they follow strict safety protocols.

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“To have to shut down again it really is not fair to our members, especially when bars and other establishments can be open,” she said.

But Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said on Tuesday that updated risk assessments have been completed for the orange phase and the risk of transmission is just too high given the extended close contact with personal care workers and their clients.

Read more: 4th New Brunswick school reports case of COVID-19

“I know that many many owners of salons have done many changes to their establishments to make them as safe as possible,” she said. “But in the orange phase, there is just that much higher level of risk of exposure for the virus.”

Russell said she is open to meeting with the association but cannot promise she will make any changes to the restrictions.

Meanwhile, Bloquel says her business can survive a few weeks of downtime but if the orange phase persists for months, she said her spa just might not survive the second wave of COVID-19.

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