COVID-19: Alberta barbershop ‘rebrands’ as ‘essential service’ pet groomer to stay open

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Decision to open central Alberta barbershop leaves town divided' Coronavirus: Decision to open central Alberta barbershop leaves town divided
A barbershop in Innisfail, Alta. is opening its doors in order to pay the bills. As Jenna Freeman reports, the decision that goes against public health rules has the central Alberta town divided. – Jan 12, 2021

Editor’s note: Alberta Health Services initially said a second closure notice was issued to Bladez 2 Fadez barbership on Wednesday. AHS later clarified only one closure notice was issued to the business, and the RCMP were engaged Wednesday as part of the enforcement process.

An Alberta barbershop that opened despite the province’s COVID-19 public health restrictions is “rebranding” due to what owners say deems it an essential business so it can continue cutting hair.

Bladez 2 Fazes in Innisfail reopened to customers on Tuesday, offering short-timed haircuts to those who booked online.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta barbershop vows to stay open despite AHS ordering its closure

Under the UCP’s current restrictions, which have been extended to at least Jan. 21, personal care businesses like barbershops and hair salons are not allowed to operate.

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Bladez 2 Fadez was given a closure notice by Alberta Health Services on Tuesday but said it planned to open and see customers again the next day.

In a post on the shop’s Facebook page Wednesday, it said “since pet grooming is [an] essential service, we are groomers today.”

“Apparently, we are pets of the government,” the post read. “We are offering pet grooming for humans!!!!! We we also have dog and cat food available for purchase.”

Shop owner Natalie Klein, who is the niece of former premier Ralph Klein, said her train of thought on Wednesday’s “rebrand” was that “considering the government finds loopholes” on various orders and recommendations, she would find her own to secure her livelihood.

“I just want people to wake up and see that pets have more rights than we do and something needs to change,” Klein said.

“We are being treated like pets by our own government that we elected.”

Click to play video: 'Businesses that do not follow COVID-19 public health restrictions will face consequences: Hinshaw' Businesses that do not follow COVID-19 public health restrictions will face consequences: Hinshaw
Businesses that do not follow COVID-19 public health restrictions will face consequences: Hinshaw – Jan 12, 2021

She added that “anyone can self-identify as anything these days,” and some of her customers have said that “they’re going to identify as a dog today so they can get a haircut.”

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“Bottom line, I’m just trying to survive. I just want to make a living. I don’t want government handouts,” Klein said.

While no animal grooming is actually taking place at Bladez 2 Fadez, the shop wrote on Facebook that pets are welcome.

Klein maintained she’s abiding by Alberta Health guidelines: wearing masks, only allowing one customer in the shop at a time and completing any haircuts in less than 15 minutes, which is the time officials have said people need to be in close contact with one another without protective equipment for viral transmission to happen.

Read more: Petition pushes for lift of COVID-19 restrictions on small businesses in Calgary

Sine reopening Tuesday, Klein said about 30 people have come in for haircuts. She added they’re not advertising that they are open outside their shop and people are hearing by word of mouth or through Facebook.

Former Innisfail councillor Glen Carritt resigned his seat on Monday after voicing his support for Klein’s decision to open her business.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Klein said no inspectors had visited the shop but she believed someone did drive by.

Wednesday afternoon, Alberta Health Services said inspectors did a follow-up inspection at Blades 2 Fadez, as part of the regular process for any business given a closure order.

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“AHS is considering next steps at this time, including potential legal action,” an emailed statement read.

On Thursday, AHS said it engaged with the RCMP, which later issued two tickets to the owners of the business.

When asked Wednesday about the number of cases linked to hair salons and barbershops, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said case investigators are only collecting information on new active cases, and because those kinds of businesses have been — for the most part — closed for several weeks, “we would not expect to see those in our current trends.”

“It’s important to remember, again, that the intent of the current restrictions is to reduce in-person contact as much as possible across the province,” she said.

“We are, thankfully, seeing our numbers trending in a very positive way, and we’ll be making decisions as we go forward based on those trends and, of course, based on the information that we had from contact tracing earlier in the fall, that helps us get a sense of the relative risks of exposure in those different settings.”

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— With files from Global News’ Jenna Freeman

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