Toronto hairstylists say outdoor haircuts pose too many challenges

Mar 19 2021, 5:29 pm

With Toronto allowing outdoor dining again during the Grey-Lockdown, some are questioning whether other services could resume outdoors as well.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams faced a question Thursday about whether the province would consider allowing barbers and stylists to offer outdoor haircuts.

Williams wouldn’t rule out the idea.

“Toronto and Peel have been in this lockdown mode since November and we sense that,” he said during a news conference. “We’re asking ourselves and having discussions about what can we do to work with citizens of Toronto and Peel.”

But some local stylists say moving their businesses onto the streets of Toronto would be more trouble than it’s worth.

Beni Sicilia, owner of Blowdry Lounge Inc. with three locations in Toronto, watched several celebrity stylists in California use their patios to service clients in sunny Beverly Hills during lockdowns there.

But the idea of bringing the practice to Toronto made him laugh.

“You’re held at the mercy of the weather,” he said. “What if I say I can do 10 clients tomorrow and then all of a sudden it’s -30C?”

He’s had a few relatives ask him to cut hair in their backyards, and that’s been fine because they can wash their hair inside their homes before coming out for a cut. But there’s no plumbing or electricity on the streets of Toronto.

“You have so many salons on Yonge Street. What, you’re gonna have a street full of chairs?”

He acknowledged barbers may be able to work outdoors since they do dry cuts, but more complex services including colour would be out of the question.

“If you’ve got foils sitting under direct sunlight that could over process,” he said. “You have to have your temperature controlled properly.”

At the end of the day, getting your hair done is supposed to be a relaxing and sanitary experience that delivers pleasing results. Sicilia just isn’t sure that experience could happen on a windy street with buses going by.

Tyler Moore, owner of Parlour Salon’s three Toronto locations, agreed the logistical challenges with outdoor haircuts would be too much.

“Pedestrians tripping on extension cords, a gust of wind knocking over equipment. Let’s imagine the nightmare situations,” he told Daily Hive.

At the end of the day, he isn’t interested in offering outdoor haircuts.

Instead, Moore wishes salon staff could be higher on the list for vaccination to speed up the reopening process.

“We aren’t a store where people are meandering around touching things. You come in and sit in one spot and interact with one or two stylists. Everyone is PPE’d, everyone is sanitized, everyone is monitored by each other that the rules are followed.”


Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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