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Alberta stylists won't be cutting corners when doors reopen
EDMONTON -- Edmonton hair stylists and barbers will get some guidance from the government on how to minimize COVID-19 risks before services resume this month, but some are bristling at the idea of opening their shops soon.
Premier Jason Kenney announced last week that stage one of Alberta's relaunch plan would include the reopening of some personal services, including those who cut hair, as early as May 14.
But some workers in the industry say they don't feel it's safe to open that early and that current guidelines are too vague.
"Will there be enough masks provided? What are the safety protocols? The government and the city actually have been really M.I.A. in giving anyone in our industry that information," said Astrid Woodward, who owns Eclectica Beauty Studio. "How do we keep safe while still having to be that close to do our jobs? I just don’t understand how this will work, and if it’s so complicated why are we part of stage one?"
Woodward is still preparing to reopen her studio, which is now covered in plastic.
"I have protocols in place where, literally, I will sanitize every surface that that client touched before I see another client," she said. "I’ve basically taken away any porous surfaces that can’t be effectively cleaned between clients. I will be wearing a mask, I will be encouraging clients to wear a mask as well."
Woodward's concerns are shared by others including NDP Leader Rachley Notley, who spoke alongside several people connected to the personal care industry on Thursday.
"Without very clear, sector-specific guidelines, it could mean further outbreaks of COVID-19, the potential of a second shutdown and significant financial risks for these business," Notley said.
Alberta's top doctor also weighed in on the personal care conundrum, saying barbers and hair stylists were given the green light to reopen May 14 specifically because of their provincially regulated training and certification standards.
"This certification includes a provincially-recognized public health component on infection prevention and control," said Deena Hinshaw. "This means that hairstylists and barbers already have some familiarity with protocols aimed at limiting customers’ risk of exposure to infections."
She said businesses uncomfortable with opening in stage one aren't going to be forced to.
The Alberta government has released general workplace guidelines for business owners gearing up to reopen, but they mostly cover the use of personal protective equipment, screening, distancing and disinfecting guidelines.
Hinshaw promised additional guidance for the industry in the coming days on questions like whether masks are needed or if blow-drying is safe.
"We are continuing to work on additional risk mitigation information to barbers and hairstylists in preparation for stage one of relaunch," she said. "This approach of opening only barbers and hairstylists of personal services at the first stage mirrors the relaunch strategies in other jurisdictions across Canada and in Europe."
Despite the confusion, Woodward said she's still confident in her shop's ability to mitigate coronavirus risks.
"I feel that I can control my environment and that it’s a lot safer than even say going to the grocery store."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson