Many Red Deerians are scrambling to book last-minute hair appointments this week before the third temporary closure of salons takes effect Sunday.
Most salons report being “swamped” with back-to-back appointments, so Jacqueline Gross feels lucky to have pre-booked a hair appointment Thursday at Abbey Road Hair Studio.
“It’s unfortunate this has to go on for so long,” said Gross, who empathizes with hairdressers who will have no customers from 11:59 p.m. on May 9 for three weeks.
This closure was ordered on Tuesday to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who also temporarily shuttered schools, restaurants and fitness centres.
“I am beyond frustrated,” said Kim Smith, of Utopia Hair and Lash Studio. “One minute the premier is praising us as an industry, saying how good we’re doing and the next week he shuts us down again…”
Smith wishes all Albertans had been as diligent at following pandemic protocols as hair salons. Rule-breaking Bowden-area rodeo operators and the defiant central Alberta restaurant owners who flouted health guidelines “think they are helping us — but they are not at all,” said Smith.
Like other personal care services, salons require masking for staff and customers, disinfection between clients, and people entering must sign waiver forms stating they have not had COVID-19 symptoms.
Many salon owners fear this third shut down — ordered when new daily cases had been around 2,000 — will last longer than the three weeks.
“I’m not happy about it,” said Susanne Anderson, owner of Abbey Road Hair Studio. “I know we have to do what we have to do to help the medical system,” she added, but no viral cases originated from hair salons, to her knowledge.
Ashley Mabbott, manager of Crop Hair Boutique, said she understands the importance of reducing demand on hospital emergency departments, “but as a small business owner, it’s hard to have to close for a third time.”
While workers impacted by the latest shutdown will get some government assistance, salon staff say the application process is cumbersome and there’s a lag time before cheques arrive. Financial options for salon owners mostly consist of government loans.
Hairdressers have been “busting their buns, they are so busy” before the closure, Mabbott said. “With all this craziness they have been very resilient… This is the third time and they realize we are not in this alone.”
Janet Davey, director of MC College, said her 40 hairdressing students will be moving to online classes to learn theory, in compliance with health protocols. She hopes the latest order will be lifted on schedule so they can also get the hand-on experience needed to graduate. Otherwise their education will have to be extended.
“From what I see, the young people are kind of rolling with it… It’s been 15 months now and they are getting pretty adaptable,” said Davey — but are also anxious to complete their finals, “get jobs and get moving on their careers.”