Barber calls for across-the-board mandatory mask rule for customers
'We're just trying to be safe and to stay open,' says Fredericton barber
Shelly Woodcock, owner of Hashey's Barber Shop in downtown Fredericton, wants all barbershops and hair salons to follow the same COVID-19 rules, and she's calling on licensing organizations to enforce them.
After being permitted to reopen in the yellow phase, Woodcock, who has owned her shop for two years, said it was left up to each barbershop to decide whether customers should wear masks.
Some are asking customers to do so, others are not.
"The policy is, it is up to the business to decide, so there is businesses doing beard trims and shaves, which I don't agree with because you can't wear a mask for that."
And Woodcock said in this business you can't physically distance.
"You're right in people's faces."
Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane confirmed in an email that everyone in the province must wear a mask in public spaces when physical distancing of at least two metres can't be maintained, including in barbershops.
"Barbershop customers receiving beard trimming services may remove their mask but must put it back on once the beard trim is complete. During the beard trim the barber must wear a face shield over their mask for added protection," he wrote in an email.
Because barbershops were among the last service industries to open under New Brunswick's emergency order, Woodcock wonders what will happen if there is another COVID outbreak.
"We're the first ones that will have to close. I just think if masks were required for every shop, it would be much better. It would maybe keep us open much longer."
Woodcock questions why barbers are the exception if they ae considered high-risk.
"Being the last one allowed to open, why are we not required to have our clients wear masks?"
Cheryl Campbell, president of the New Brunswick Registered Barbers' Association and a barber herself at Don's Barber Shop in Oromocto, said while masks aren't mandatory for the customer, they are for the barber.
"While it's not mandatory, they highly suggest that [customers] use the, but it's not a rule. It's a recommendation."
Campbell said most shops are not enforcing it and during her inspections of some shops, while she saw all the barbers wearing masks the customers were not.
As part of her role as president, Campbell visits shops to do health inspections or if there is a complaint.
"We just check for cleanliness, that's the most important thing."
But she said with COVID, there's extra work to ensure that customers are sitting two metres apart, that there are barriers up in shops if chairs can't be spaced two metres apart, and that barbers are cleaning chairs, stations and equipment properly between clients.
Public Health involved in guidelines
Campbell said the association's registrar, Blaine Harris, worked with Public Health to determine what rules and regulations would be in place for reopening.
A teleconference call was held with the barbers association and the province's cosmetology association, "and they basically told us what they expected."
Campbell said from there it was up to each association to provide the information to those who needed it.
Woodcock requires all her customers to wear a mask in her barbershop and says everyone complies. If a customer doesn't have a mask, Woodcock will supply a disposable one.
"I have the sign right on the door that says masks required. There's been no pushback at all."
Woodcock said she has probably lost some business because she will not do beard trims or shampoos, but to her safety comes first.
"We're just trying to be safe and to stay open."
Campbell said it's the same in her shop. Masks are required and she's had customers leave because they refused to wear one.
"We've had different reactions to it."
Campbell said she feels her shop has lost business because those wanting beard trims or shampoos can go to another barber who is doing them.
"I'd like to see the mask mandatory for clients as well as barbers."
With files from Gary Moore