the corner spot

Toronto business owner calls for salons to be included in first phase of economy reopening

As select businesses get ready to open their doors Monday in Ontario's first phase of reopening the economy, one Toronto salon owner is calling for her industry to be added to the list. 

Dana Ross is the owner of The Corner Spot, a unisex salon in Toronto's Upper Beaches, and she says businesses in the salon industry are uniquely equipped to reopen at this point in time due to the extensive training hair stylists must go through to become licensed.

"We are already trained and prepared to protect the public from infectious disease transmission, both from ourselves and from others. We train for this our entire careers," she said.

"Long before COVID-19, we were worried about HIV, Staph, Strep, Tuberculosis, and more. I cannot say this about many businesses that are already operating or that will be included in the first phase of reopening."

She even started a petition urging the provincial government to add the salon industry to the list, and it's garnered 245 signatures thus far.

Ross' shop has been shuttered since March 14 due to government orders, and she said they weren't able to pivot sales due to the physical nature of the industry. As a result, their income has been reduced to zero.

And yet, as is true for all small businesses forced to close because of the pandemic, the bills have continued to come in. Between their mortgage, phone bill, internet bill, carpet cleaning, hydro, water, trash, HST payments, payroll taxes, accounting, insurance and more, expenses add up to approximately $24,000 for just one month.

But Ross said her business is actually in a better position than most thanks to bill deferrals and being in the fortunate position of owning the commercial property, and their calculations shows they can survive like this until August. 

"That is not the case for many other salons that still have rent payments — even with the announcement of small business rent subsidies — and have already exhausted personal funds to start up in the first place," she said. 

"I predict a lot of salons will have to close up going on like this much longer. Imagine having to still pay even 25 per cent of your rent with zero income for an undetermined length of time. "

This, coupled with the fact that hair stylists are uniquely equipped to implement measures that prevent the spread of the virus, is precisely why Ross says they should be allow to start opening Monday. 

"Each and every day we not only ensure your safety against infectious diseases, but we are highly trained and highly regulated for exactly the reasons we are facing today," she said.

Ross has already created her own extensive reopening plan for when the time does come to start seeing customers again, and it's a two-page document with countless new measures to ensure safety such as installing dividers between all stations, providing staff members with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation tools, only allowing one customer in the sink area at a time, installing sneeze guards at the manicure station and the front desk and more. 

And while she concedes that only appointed health officials know for sure whether it's safe for businesses to reopen, she says she truly believes salons have a better chance of keeping people safe within their environment than retailers or restaurants.

"We rely solely on the patronage of our clients to survive and to put food on the table. Without that, it is impossible to continue on," she said."We have more control of our workspace and movement within it than any retail business or restaurant, yet ours will likely be one of the last industries to reopen."

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The Corner Spot

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