Ontario health minister says Toronto hair salons will be open within a few weeks
Feeling a little unkempt in the hair department these days? Like you've pretty much always just rolled out of bed, or at least look like it? Is your once-glorious mane hanging limply from your head like a bowl of cold spaghetti, parts of which got stuck to the bottom of the pot while cooking and turned brown?
You're not alone; Ontario Premier Doug Ford also hates his grown-out pandemic 'do, and is once again fantasizing about getting his locks chopped by dog groomers while barber shops remain closed.
He won't be doing that, of course — I mean, he waited five full months the last time around, only getting a haircut once the entire province was able to do so.
There are also better, albeit shadier options for those who are desperate to get their ears lowered: Travel to a nearby town where looser restrictions are in place, or turn the bustling underground hair economy right here in Toronto.
Please open the hair salons/barbershops in Toronto. Everyone wears a mask in them, limited customers. People are crossing into other regions to get haircuts— William Yee (@Snakefish1) March 22, 2021
Officials strongly recommend against doing either of these things, and can actually charge you under the Reopening Ontario Act right now for getting an illegal haircut in Toronto (salons and barbershops are not permitted to operate in grey zones.)
And yet, as we saw last spring during the first COVID-19 lockdown, black market barbers and stylists are thriving as customers offer them top dollar for cuts and colours in their own kitchens.
The subject was broached during a government press conference on Monday, when CTV's Colin D'Mello asked Ford if it wouldn't "make more sense to reopen salons" in Toronto and Peel so that customers no longer have to resort to this "underground barber and hair styling economy."
Many licensed professionals won't touch this kind of work, after all, for fear of putting their careers in jeopardy, and most home kitchens wouldn't have the same strict health and safety protocols as salons.
"Please be patient another few weeks and you will be able to get your hair cut," Health Minister Christine Elliott said.— Leith Dunick (@LeithDunick) March 22, 2021
"I hear you, I hear the same thing, look at me — you know, I'd go to the dog clippers right now and pull up and get my hair clipped... I've got more gel on here than you can shake a stick at," said Ford, not quite answering the question but commiserating with Ontarians nonetheless.
Health Minister Christine Elliott was more direct in her response.
"It's unfortunate that we have these underground operations going on because we're nearly there. This is a race against the clock to vaccinate as many people as possible and prevent the variants of concern from growing exponenitally," said Elliott during Monday's presser in Scarborough.
The minster said that personal services like hair salons "are more dangerous because people are in closer contact and that increases the risk of transmission."
"We are asking people to please be patient," she continued. "In another few weeks, you will be able to get your cut."
Elliott acknowledged that people in Toronto are getting anxious about their hair and said that she herself has been waiting for a long time to hit the salon.
"Hopefully, within the near future, we will be able to move Toronto and Peel into a lower level, perhaps into red," she said today.
"But it all depends on everyone to please continue following those public health measures, they are so important in reducing transmission."
Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said similarly on Monday that, despite the reopening of patios, locals should continue to follow all public health directives and "proceed cautiously in the next few weeks."
If key COVID-19 indicators are stable when the province reevaluates which level Toronto should be at come April 5, and if we're moved into the red zone, salons would finally reopen in Canada's largest city (with safety measures in place) after more than four months.
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