No haircuts until industry has a COVID-19 plan in place, says B.C.’s top doctor

British Columbians hoping for a haircut won’t bet getting in the salon chair any time soon, according to the province’s top doctor.

Salons, tattoo shops and other personal services businesses are among the few sectors of the province’s economy that were formally ordered to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some in the beauty business have been cautioned for trying to violate the order, others have launched a petition asking not to be included in the first wave of businesses to be reopened.

“Darn, I was kind of looking forward to that myself,” quipped provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry when asked about the petition at her Saturday briefing.

But Henry said the province was in no hurry to lift the order, saying there would be no movement until mechanisms are in place to stop the spread of the virus.

“We won’t be opening barbers and stylists and some of the other industries where we know you have to have some close contact until we’re all comfortable that we have an appropriate plan to be able to do that safely for everybody involved,” said Henry.

“It is a bit of a cautionary tale for us that we’ve seen these outbreaks in the poultry industry, for example, that tells us that we need to make sure that we have the right safety measures in place in each different area of our economy to make sure that we can all be comforted and understand that we are opening up safely and slowly and methodically.”

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As in the case of the restaurant sector, the beauty industry is preparing to submit its recommended strategy for service under COVID-19 to health officials.

The Beauty Council of Western Canada is surveying its membership and researching best practices in other provinces and countries in order to develop the plan.

Speaking on CKNW’s Mornings with Simi earlier this week, council executive director Greg Robins said the situation is tricky as the industry often involves confined, indoor spaces.

“And even those little rubber bands that go around in the back of your head or behind your ears do pose a problem for stylists and navigating around them, touching them. How do you take that mask off?

“However, in all likelihood, we will probably be, you know, having to go with masks on both client and staff.”

But Robins said provinces like Saskatchewan and Manitoba that have sought to reopen without specific guidelines for the industry have seen some staff refuse to work.

B.C. is expected to begin laying out its plan to gradually reopen the economy over the coming week.

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