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The beauty behind COVID-19

 How hair salons are cutting
and colouring through the pandemic

By Brooklyn Cooper

‘IT’S AMAZING TO HEAR that no COVID-19 cases have been traced back to salons,” says Erica Wilson, a stylist from Icon Hair and Body. “I think a lot of that is due to taking extra precautions with sanitization and social distancing.”

Mandatory business and service restrictions were mandated to hair salons across Alberta on Jan. 18 for the health and safety of staff and clients. Restrictions include following all current public health guidelines, and violations can result in fines.

Icon has two locations in the city: Downtown and South. Wilson, who has worked at both locations since 2018, says time spent cleaning has nearly doubled since the first COVID-19 restrictions were implemented in March.

Although the importance of cleaning has always been important to salons, the process has become more intensive, Wilson says.

“Now we do the same thing, only more thoroughly and with stronger disinfectants.”

Step 1: Booking an appointment

The Alberta government no longer allows walk-in service for most businesses – though people are still allowed to book online or over the phone when they are in desperate need of a trim.

“I don’t think there’s been a huge change in the number of clients we see, without walk-ins being available,”  Wilson says. “Everyone has been great about booking their appointment prior to the date.”

The salon can no longer double-book appointments either.

“So, if you’re getting your hair coloured, normally I could move you to a different chair so that the colour can process and during that 30 or 45 minutes, I could do a haircut or apply another colour for someone else in the meantime,” Wilson says.

So, she says, this has been the biggest factor for seeing fewer clients.

Also, Icon now books 15-minute breaks between clients to give the employees time to sanitize their stations and tools. They use a hospital grade disinfectant and a UV sterilizer to clean the equipment before each client arrives.

Step 2: Social distancing

Since businesses are required to follow all current public health guidelines, social distancing must be in place wherever possible. Although staff are unable to practice social distancing with their clients while doing hair, they have ensured that their stations are all two metres apart. Therefore, guests are able to maintain social distancing from clients and staff other than their stylist.

Step 3: Wearing masks

No matter the length of the appointment, employees and guests are required to wear masks at all times in the salon. If a client doesn’t have a mask, the salon provides disposable ones.

At the end of each day, when split ends are trimmed and hair is coloured, employees ensure all surfaces, door handles, and floors are disinfected, too. The salon needs to be ready for another day’s worth of clients.

Wilson admits the extra work has made her shifts more exhausting.

“But it gives me a sense of encouragement knowing that the extra steps we’re taking right now to keep our guests safe are working.”

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