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Tyler Moore, owner of Parlour Salon, plans to open for retail sales on Thursday, now that more non-essential businesses in Ontario are allowed to open for curbside pickup.Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

With many provinces now planning to allow the reopening of hair salons, business owners across Canada are looking for ways to navigate the health hazards – and added financial costs – of providing services that involve close contact with others during a pandemic.

“It’s supposed to be kind of a little luxury to go get your hair done,” said Tyler Moore, the owner of Toronto’s Parlour Salon. “Just what needs to get done is going to be done and that’s it."

Some of the small joys of going to the salon will be sacrificed due to the risk of spreading the virus. At Parlour, no walk-ins will be accepted, and temperature checks may be required. While they usually offer customers a drink to sip and a magazine to leaf through, neither will be permitted. Stylists will all wear gloves, gowns, masks and face shields, Mr. Moore said. Shampooing will only be done when absolutely necessary, such as after a colouring, and talking at the basin will not be allowed.

Mr. Moore said his business would be ramping up its already vigorous cleanliness and sanitation practices, but that it was difficult to do so with few official rules. Ontario has not yet set a date for the reopening of salons, and Mr. Moore said there are not any guidelines available for salons wanting to begin planning enhanced health and safety protocols.

In Alberta, hair salons can open as early as May 14 as part of Phase 1 of the province’s relaunch plan. According to British Columbia’s Restart Plan, hair salons and barbershops will be permitted to open during Phase 2, which will begin in mid-May.

Lisa Friesen, owner of Vivid Hair Design in Calgary, said salons were taking steps to protect their clients, such as installing plexiglass dividers and purchasing personal protective equipment.

However, Ms. Friesen said buying the additional health and safety supplies has been a financial challenge. She said many salons would be resuming services while carrying debt incurred during closure, and that the cost of restarting safely was expensive.

Janine Cannon, manager of Zazou Salon in North Vancouver, said B.C. salons were basing their reopening plans on guidelines recommended by other “individuals and professionals in the beauty industry.”

The industry is one that already requires a high standard of hygiene, she said. This gives salons a good foundation for adapting their businesses to minimize the risk of virus transmission.

“We’ve implemented extensive sanitation protocols in between every client,” Ms. Cannon said. “Most of these things we’ve done before, we’re just doing them to the extreme.”

These additional cleaning and protection measures are an added cost, Ms. Cannon said. Salons will also need to restrict the number of customers in order to comply with physical distancing regulations, which will reduce their income compared with before the pandemic.

This could result in services becoming more expensive: “There is a potential that prices will need to increase for people to be able to stay in this sort of restricted, regulated new normal," said Ms. Cannon.

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