OPINION: Cut barbers a break

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Cut barbers a break

The more I learn about Doug Ford’s re-opening plan for Ontario, the less I see the rhyme or reason of it. Last week, I talked about how restaurant patios should be allowed to be open. If kids are allowed to play on splashpads, then a household unit should be allowed to sit on a socially distanced patio, enjoy the summer weather, and support businesses who need it.

This week, I will talk about barbershops, hair salons, and other beauty related businesses. While splashpads remain open, restaurants must wait until June 14 to open, which again, makes no sense. Barbershops and hair salons have been told not to expect to open until July.

What sort of sense does that make? When restaurants re-open on June 14 there are no restrictions that I’m aware of that would prohibit members of different households from sitting together, but to be sitting with a barber, both while wearing masks, will not be allowed until the month after.

Barbershops and hair salons have had it even harder during this past lockdown than most other businesses because they can provide a very limited form of curbside service. A hair salon can sell some products at curbside, but that does not make up for the missing revenue from not being able to have customer appointments.

Additionally, barbershops and hair salons are probably cleaner than most businesses to begin with anyway. Their instruments are sanitized between uses, they will likely still be wearing masks, and have ample cleaning supplies on hand as a matter of course. Just as an example of this last point, last April I wrote a story about Louise Gendron, owner of Studio 101 who was using her supply of sanitation products to make hand sanitizer for members of the Cornwall community. She couldn’t use the products for her business because this was during the first lockdown.

Again, I go back to my first point, what is the rhyme or reason behind the Ford government’s re-opening plan? Kids can play at a splashpad, but at time of writing they aren’t back in school yet. When they are back in the classroom, they likely won’t be able to go to a restaurant. When they are able to sit at a restaurant, even with members of other households, they won’t be able to get a haircut.

Prior to this latest lockdown, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) showed where most of the cases in the region were coming from and they weren’t coming from businesses like restaurants and barbershops, they were coming from workplaces and schools.

Here is my speculation about how the government is handling its re-opening plan and I get the feeling that they are looking not just at public health data, but at poll numbers too. Doug Ford and his government are not exactly popular right now, and let’s face it, few governments are scoring very high in the polls at the moment and it is because of the pandemic.

The only logical reason I can think of as to why Doug Ford opened splashpads on the May long weekend and kept businesses closed is because he was hoping for a bump in the polls from parents.

In June of 2018 the Progressive Conservatives won their first majority government after 15 years in the political wilderness. Little did they know that their time in government would include a pandemic that has forced them to take some unpopular positions, some justified, some not so much. A poll published last week by polling company Leger showed that Ford was down in his approval rating, with 53 per cent of respondents believed that the Premier’s handling of the pandemic was “Somewhat Bad” or “Very Bad.”

It is hard to say where the provincial political landscape will stand next June when we are due to have our next election, but the Progressive Conservatives could very well find themselves back in that political wilderness if they can’t turn things around.

If there are good reasons for keeping restaurants closed until June 14, and hair salons closed until July, I have yet to hear the province justify those decisions.

Readers, does it make sense to keep barbershops and hair salons closed until July, when splashpads are open now and restaurants soon will be? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nseebruch@seawaynews.meda

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