Phase two of BC’s Restart Plan started on May 19 and personal service establishments are now allowed to open, leading to some very busy barber shops in Terrace.
Hair salons and barber shops have been closed since March 21, and people not brave enough to cut their hair at home now have access to a professional stylist or barber.
“There’s definitely a big need, there was already a need in Terrace to begin with, it’s definitely going to be crazy the next two months I’m sure,” said Tova Wood, owner of Ye Olde Chop Bloc.
Wood opened her shop on May 19, with several COVID-19 precautions in place like masks, disposable capes and the sanitizing of her workstation and equipment before and after each customer. The shop has an occupancy limit of three people inside at a time, meaning Wood is the only employee working.
“I’m working longer hours just to try to get everybody in, so I’m here from like eight-thirty to eight,” said Wood.
The Nuk Barber Shop has seen a similar glut of customers since it opened the same day. “I was busy before but this is crazy, I’m booked for the next week and booked for the next two weeks, full days,” said Brandon Larkin, owner.
The Nuk Barbershop is also following protocols like hand washing, single-use capes, sanitizing the equipment and station for each customer. Larkin said that mens’ hair can be a challenge with mask use because it is usually short, and commercial clippers tend to blow cut hair into the sides of customers’ masks.
Larkin opened The Nuk Barber Shop in May 2019, so COVID-19 forcing him to close after less than a year in business was challenging and emotional. He is happy to be able to reconnect with his clients, some of whom he has been working with for four years.
“It was nice to see all my clients and the community, and there was a lot of love and support yesterday. It’s really actually a beautiful thing.”
However, the opening process was not simple or easy. Larkin said that information changed rapidly and it was difficult to find accurate, up-to-date guidance that applied to B.C. and not other jurisdictions like Alberta. Tova Wood at Ye Olde Chop Bloc said that she “didn’t really know what was going on until the last minute.”
A Change.org petition questioning the reopening of B.C. barber shops and salons has over 13,000 signatures. It argues that hair professionals should not return to work until questions are answered about the availability of personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing and what support there is for workers if they get sick.
“I think that B.C. and I think that Terrace has done an incredible job from the knowledge that I’ve gathered,” said Larkin. “I’m pretty confident in my trade and what I do and I think that I’m feeling very comfortable moving forward.”