Innisfail barbershop Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop that reopened its doors Tuesday morning despite COVID-19 restrictions opened again Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning, Natalie Klein reopened her Innisfail shop saying she would not survive the lockdown. Around 1 p.m. in the afternoon, health officials visited with an order to close.
Hair styling and barber services are not permitted to operate under current health restrictions and failure to comply can result in fines of up to $5,000 per day.
On Wednesday, the shop posted on Facebook that it was offering “pet grooming for humans” since pet grooming was allowed as an essential service.
A second post also noted the shop was selling dog and cat food.
More businesses may be weighing the pros and cons of reopening regardless of COVID restrictions, warned Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
Reg Warkentin, the chamber’s advocacy manager, said he would not be surprised if more business owners reopen despite the consequences.
“We’re seeing that throughout the province. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it here. People’s lives are on the lines,” Warkentin said.
“In the best of times (lockdowns) would be a major blow to any business. But with the state our economy entered this, it’s incredibly frustrating, financially distressing. I can only imagine the pressures these people are facing.”
He said programs like wage subsidies and rent assistance need work.
“There’s always gaps. There’s people that are going to feel desperate and without choice other than to earn a living the way they know how.”
The chamber said the data shows that businesses are not a major source of COVID transmission thanks to the impressive and costly measures they have undertaken, such as plexiglass barriers, masks, and social distancing.
The chamber has called for government restrictions to be based on hard scientific data about transmission that reflects measures already in place, and do so with the understanding that all businesses are essential to the owner, their employees, and the people they serve.
“We think if people in businesses continue to follow those types of guidelines (masks, etc.) we shouldn’t need the full-out restrictions and lockdowns.”
Warkentin said while the chamber would never support people breaking the law, it is working with chambers across Canada to try and change the law. Meetings have also been held with local MLAs.
“I really do believe they are listening to our concerns and they’re trying to take a measured and reasonable approach. Certainly there’s a balancing act. There’s a lot at play here.”
But a sustainable strategy is needed for business, he said.
“We have to manage this. We can’t just continue to be reactive with restrictions and lockdowns. If we come out of this and there’s no businesses, and 25 per cent unemployment, that’s not good.”