Saskatoon

Some Sask. business owners question lack of rules, support around COVID-19 reopening

Some Saskatchewan business owners say they won’t be opening next month when the government begins to lift the COVID-19 restrictions.

Chief medical health officer says he's confident businesses will reopen safely

Saskatoon hair stylist Andrew MacDonald says it's 'ridiculous' for the government to allow businesses like his to reopen next month. He said only medically necessary services should be allowed to violate physical distancing recommendations. (Don Somers/CBC)

Some Saskatchewan business owners say they won't be opening next month when the government begins to lift the COVID-19 restrictions.

"This is ridiculous. It's dangerous," said Andrew MacDonald, owner of Saskatoon salon Andrew Adan.

"No one 'needs' a colour or a cut or their nails done … No one needs to be on the cover of a mag right now."

Golf courses and provincial parks will be allowed to begin the process of opening next month. So will hair salons, barber shops, acupuncturists, massage therapists and others who can't maintain physical distancing to perform their service.

The province's reopening plan recommends businesses take precautions such as hand washing and donning protective equipment like gloves and masks.

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said he's been impressed with practices in grocery stores and other outlets which have remained open throughout the restrictions.

Shahab said he expects that to continue next month, so businesses will be allowed to make their own safety rules.

"None of this can be policed. I think we all need to have some self-discipline and follow through," Shahab said Tuesday on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

MacDonald said that's not good enough. He and others say there's no reason to allow such close contact for services that aren't medically necessary. Washing, colouring, cutting and blow drying hair can spread germs, he said.

"Workers have no way of screening adequately in an industry that employs all the same high-contact characteristic activities as a health-care worker," he said.

Salons and hairdressers have no professional body to regulate them and there are only two provincial government inspectors for the entire province, he said.

Even if medical-grade personal protective equipment was available for all salons, MacDonald said he wouldn't want to use this valuable gear when the health system is facing shortages.

Some owners of health-related businesses are also concerned.

Tara Collins, an audiologist and owner of Saskatoon Hearing and Audiology Clinic, said she'd like more guidance from the government. She'd also like help sourcing proper equipment. After countless phone calls, she's been unable to secure an adequate supply of masks, disinfectants and sanitizers.

She said she likely won't be opening as permitted next month.

"I'm trying to find alternatives. Everyone's waiting," Collins said.

"Am I putting myself at a disadvantage as a business person by not opening? Maybe. But I want everyone to be safe."

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