Uncertainty still swirls around reopening of Ontario barbershops, hair salons

Nation Valley News editor Nelson Zandbergen awaits the shave of Trieste Barbershop's Chris Roman in Winchester (a couple of years before the pandemic.)

EASTERN ONTARIO — The allure of a legal haircut beckons on the other side of the provincial border, in Quebec, where personal grooming services outside Montreal have been permitted to open their doors again as of today. Meanwhile, the Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health has tempered his initial estimate of when Ontario barbershops and beauty salons might reopen, saying late Friday the timeline is “not etched in stone” and also highlighting the possibility of a regional approach now.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis sits as a member of the provincial COVID-19 table that has been setting the medical response to the pandemic, Ontario-wide, since March. In his daily May 28 briefing with local media, he estimated that barbers and hairdressers wouldn’t return to work until “toward the end of summer.”

However, in his daily media briefing the following evening, on Friday, May 29, the doctor offered a glimmer a hope for people in that industry. “I got a lot of questions, I got a lot of people anxious about it,” he acknowledged, but still noting the “closeness of the contact and duration of the contact” as rationales for keeping those shops closed until a later stage. “But again, nothing’s etched in stone,” he added.

His May 29 update also came hours after Premier Doug Ford said he was reconsidering a regional approach to the staging of the reopening in Ontario, raising hopes lesser-hit areas may see a loosening of restrictions earlier. To date, businesses and amenities of various types have been otherwise closed and then allowed to reopen based on rules applying simultaneously across the province.

While Eastern Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health noted some logistical concerns with ensuring proper coordination among neighbouring regions — lest too many residents of one region travel to access services in another  — he seemed amenable to the idea. “I’d like to open up as many businesses as possible as safely as possible,” he said. “So those are things the ministry is going to be coming down with, in terms of what will open next, and as soon as we get the go-ahead for hair-stylists and barbershops, we will be working with them to expedite their opening. I recognize that we need to bring back that business [and] again, we need to balance between the risks.”

Dr. Roumeliotis also reported that his own hair was cut recently by a member of his household — his daughter, who used a set of dog clippers.

See Dr. Roumeliotis’s May 29 media briefing, below.


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