Hundreds of B.C. barbers and hairstylists have signed a petition asking the provincial government not to single them out when COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
Premier John Horgan is expected to announce B.C.’s plan for reopening the economy next week.
However, the petition, launched on Change.org Friday, is urging the provincial government to not include hairstylists and barbers in the first phase of that economic reopening. Businesses in the personal service sector – including hair, nail, wax, spa and esthetician practices – have been closed since mid-March under a provincial health officer order.
As of 1 p.m. Saturday, 840 people, and counting, had signed the online petition.
The petition notes that it’s not possible for personal service businesses to practice social distancing with clients.
“Our government has made incredible strides in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and must understand that a decision to reopen salons first would put our communities and economy at greater risk than benefit,” reads the petition.
“We hope that businesses who operate in as close proximity to the public as nurses continue to remain closed at this time.”
It’s worrying, notes the petition, that hair salons and barbershops are allowed to reopen in the first phase of Alberta’s plan, while the rest of that province’s personal service industry will remain closed.
The petition questions whether hairstylists and barbers will have “continued, unfettered” access to personal protective equipment and whether there will be better access to more widespread testing.
“Will workers and their families who are compromised be supported? Will people in a non-essential sector have to risk illness, death and heightened community spread because they have no choice but to touch large volumes of clients in enclosed areas?” the petition asks.
“It is essential that these questions are answered before hair professionals return to work."
However, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province won’t reopen sectors such as hairstylists and barbershops until they’re confident they can operate safely, and can implement health and safety protocols.
“We will not move forward with opening up different sectors until we’re ready, until we’re sure that they have a plan that is workable that have these precautions and protections in place,” said Henry Saturday.
Henry said the outbreaks at poultry plants are a “cautionary tale” for the province.
“That tells us that we need to make sure that we have the right safety measures in place in each different area of our economy to make sure we can all be comforted and understand that we are opening up safely, and slowly and methodically,” she said.