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Masks, barriers and COVID fees: the new normal at B.C. hair salons
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. -- It opened its doors to clients for the first time in two months on Tuesday morning. But it’s far from business as usual at Hatz Hair Studio in North Vancouver.
"We have been planning for a few months the reopening phase for our business," said owner Shaun Mitha. "Some of the practice was already there, so we just had to ramp it up a couple notches."
Customers now have to book in advance and wait outside until it’s their turn. Their shoes and hands are sanitized when they come inside, and they have to wear a non-medical mask. The salon is only using every other chair, and the front desk is behind plastic.
"Obviously customer confidence is something that’s really important to us, and based on that we wanted to make sure when they arrive into our salon they felt completely comfortable," said Mitha.
One of his first clients, the executive director of the Beauty Council of Western Canada, Greg Robins, helped create reopening guidelines for the industry.
"They’ve got the appropriate equipment, they’ve got the sanitation down pat. And they feel like they’ve got themselves ready to go," said Robins, who was thrilled to finally get his hair cut.
He says about half of B.C.’s spas, hair and nail salons have chosen to reopen now, but others are waiting until they have enough staff and precautions in place. "
"We really hope people do understand the new reality inside of salons. They may not be able to get all of the services they normally have," said Robins.
Customers at many salons will be charged a "COVID fee" to help the owners recoup money they’ve spent on sanitation supplies and income lost by closing chairs and extending appointments to allow for more cleaning.
"This industry deserves to be compensated for what they have to do to make this a safe place," said Robins. "We’re seeing anywhere from about three to eight dollars per service, depending on the length of service and the amount of time they spend in the salon or barber shop."
Hatz Hair Studio is charging a flat fee of five dollars per client, in part to help pay for a new sanitation machine Mitha bought for hair-cutting tools.
Customer Cor Potgieter doesn’t mind paying more.
"There are a lot of extras for the salon. Hand cleaner, the cleaning up, the extra chairs not being used. So I think it's fair," he said.
After months of not having haircuts, people seem to be willing to pay just about anything.
"Yeah it's great. I’ve been waiting a long time for this," said Robins’ teenage son, Tyler, who came for a haircut with his dad. "My scalp can finally breathe."