Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Editor

VAUGHAN: Hairstylists and barbers shouldn’t be in phase one of Alberta relaunch plan

Impossibility of social distancing means more government protocols, access to PPE needed

Are you willing to risk someone’s life for your vanity?

The Province of Alberta recently announced a relaunch plan to ease the province out of the COVID-19 quarantine that has dominated our lives for nearly two months.

Albertans are justifiably eager to get back to a normal life, not only for economic well-being but also their mental, spiritual and physical health.

The majority of businesses included in phase one of the relaunch are health and medical related, with also some retail and hospitality businesses.

The outliers in the group are hairstylists and barbers, which are the only non-essential personal services. The difference between hairstylists and the other retail businesses in the phase one group is that hairstylists are simply and utterly incapable of social distancing while doing their job, meaning there is an incredible inherent risk for them to reopen.

To date, over 7,700 Albertans have signed a petition on change.org stating hairstylists and barbers should be removed from phase one, thus allowing them to properly mitigate risk and also see how the ongoing global pandemic plays out further.

So far, the Province of Alberta seems unwilling to back down on their choice and have said they will produce some additional public health guidelines for salons and barbershops — a request that has been made by many salons throughout the province.

Additionally, the Province and public health officials have said that businesses can opt not to reopen on May 14 if they choose not too — which is all well and good until you consider that many stylists, particularly lower income stylists, have relied on Federal COVID-19 financial programs like CERB and CEBA and it is unclear whether they will continue to qualify for that funding if the Province deems it okay to go back to work.

This means that stylists, who may no longer qualify for funding, have no choice but to put themselves, their families and their clients at risk in order to eat and pay the bills.

The Province appears unwilling to back down and stylists are required by necessity to work. That leaves the onus on regular citizens to decide how much their vanity is worth.

Is the fact you haven’t had highlights in two months worth the lives of others? Is your now overgrown facial hair worth possibly passing on a deadly virus that has no vaccine or treatment? Do you miss the social atmosphere of a salon enough to put aside your stylist’s fears for their family? These are the questions you should ask yourself before madly booking your first appointment.

If the answer to these questions is, ‘Yes, I’m willing to risk myself and others for how I temporarily look in the mirror’, then please take all the precautions necessary and don’t show up to the salon if you or people close to you have been showing symptoms of COVID-19. Ensure you have mitigated all of your personal risks in order to protect the lives of people who have no choice but to work.

If your answer to the prior questions is no, please take the time to sign the petition and ask this Government why hairstylists and barbers were included in phase one of the relaunch strategy. Additionally, you can encourage them to move hairstylists and barbers into phase two where the majority of personal services are located, allowing the salons and stylists you love to take the proper time necessary to develop safety protocols and purchase necessary PPE and sanitation products that are required to keep you and them safe.

Yes, it is important the Albertan economy recovers, but in the middle of a pandemic where it is unclear whether we are out of the first wave of infection or whether there will be a more deadly second wave — it is important we ask ourselves whether our personal vanity is the first thing that needs to be taken care of.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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