Nail salon owners worry about getting bad rap after Kingston COVID-19 outbreak

Some nail salon owners in Ottawa worry their industry will be given a bad name after a Kingston, Ont,. salon was flagged last week as the cause of a COVID-19 outbreak.

At least 16 cases tied to Binh's Nail and Spa

Health authorities in Kingston, Ont., say some protocols were not followed at Binh's Nails and Spa, the source of a COVID-19 outbreak last week. As of Friday, there were at least 16 confirmed cases tied to the salon — the first cases in the eastern Ontario city this month. (Ben Nelms/CBC)


  • An employee at a second nail salon in Kingston, Ont., has allegedly tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Kingdom Nails & Spa says it's working with health officials and takes the matter "very seriously."

Some nail salon owners in Ottawa worry their industry will be given a bad name after a Kingston, Ont,. salon was flagged last week as the cause of a COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Friday, Kingston health officials had confirmed 16 cases of COVID-19 that had some connection to Binh's Nails and Spa.

The city's medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said that about 500 people had visited the salon since it reopened on June 12th.

The establishment, he said, had not been obeying two-metre physical distancing rules and had not been cleaning properly between sessions. Workers had been wearing masks, but not all customers.

"I find it discouraging," said Natalie Esau, owner of the Upkeep Shoppe in Ottawa.

Esau said her salon is following all the guidelines set out by the province, with extra emphasis on handwashing, cleaning, and screenings for staff and clients. 

She also has a mandatory mask policy.

"That puts everyone's jobs at jeopardy ... the whole industry," Esau said.

The outbreak at Binh's Nails and Spa has led to Kingston implementing a mandatory mask policy at most indoor public spaces. (Google Street View)

It's the same situation at MeryAnn's Spa, where esthetician MeryAnn Jamil said the news had her worried salons would be told to close again.

"That's really very sad because, as far as I know, everyone in the industry ... we're trying our best to deliver, you know, that promise that our client safety and health and well-being is our priority," she said. 

"It's sad that some people don't take it seriously."

Opportunity to learn 

The exact way the virus was spread at the salon is still unclear, but for infectious disease experts, the outbreak could provide more information on what services should — and perhaps shouldn't — be offered. 

"We're going to learn a little bit more again with the opening up of these facilities and whether certain activities are likely to transmit the virus," said Dr. Gerald Evans, the medical director of infection prevention and control at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Evans wonders, for example, if pedicures will be found to be more safe than manicures. 

Manicures could make it easier for the virus to be transmitted, said Evans, since the esthetician is touching their customers' hands so much — especially if those customers don't take precautions afterward.

"The client doesn't wash their hands, or use alcohol and rinse, because they've just had their nails done and that might ruin the finish," Evans said.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health said Saturday that those who were in close contact with someone who was at the salon but have no symptoms do not need to be tested or self-isolate.

A one-day COVID-19 testing centre will open Sunday on the campus of St. Lawrence College, and priority will be given to the salon's customers and anyone who is symptomatic.


Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

With files from Laura Glowacki


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?