A collection of hairstylists and barbers in British Columbia have started a Change.org petition calling on Premier John Horgan and the provincial government not to have their businesses be among the first to reopen in phase one of BC’s COVID-19 pandemic response plan.
“Hairstylists and barbers are members of the personal service industry, where social distancing is not possible,” the petition explains. “We are calling on the BC government not to include hairstylists and barbers in the first phase of economic reopening.”
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The petition, titled “Government of British Columbia: Do not single out hairstylists in phase one,” commends all that the BC government has done to control and contain the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it also requests the government take an empathetic approach and consider that making reopening salons and barbershops would present a higher risk than reward for communities and the economy.
“We hope that businesses who operate in as close proximity to the public as nurses continue to remain closed at this time,” organizers explain.
They continue that in provinces such as Alberta, establishments included in phase one operations are required to ensure the ability to maintain physical distancing and that the personal service industry is still closed with the exception of hair salons and barbershops.
They list off several other concerns surrounding reopening, including whether stylists will have unrestricted access to PPE, whether there will be an increase in the availability of testing, and whether stylists and their families who are exposed to coronavirus will be supported.
Additionally, issues arise regarding the recirculation of air from tools such as air conditions and blow dryers as well as whether or not workers in this non-essential industry must risk their own health as well as those of their families “because they have no choice but to touch large volumes of clients in enclosed areas.”
Organizers declare that these inquiries must be addressed before hair professionals go back to work.
As of right now, hair professionals face a $25,000 fine with potential jail time in BC for continuing to work.
Organizers state that BC’s provincial government should take note from the government of California, where salons and barbershops remain closed until later phases once they can see success in businesses that can operate while maintaining social had physical distancing measures.
“We need to take thoughtful steps, as we have thus far,” organizers explain. “We hope that our government continues to be measured and informed in their decisions to benefit and protect us.”
The goal of the petition is to receive 2,500 signatures. It has already received 1,960.