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What to expect when you finally go for a haircut in Nova Scotia

Alma Head cuts her client Glenda Wells hair at her salon before public health orders were enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, which forced the closure of all salons and spas in the province.
Alma Head cuts her client Glenda Wells hair at her salon before public health orders were enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, which forced the closure of all salons and spas in the province. - Contributed
SYDNEY, N.S. —

Stylists and salon owners in Nova Scotia now know what new regulations could be put in place to reopen after being closed due to COVID-19 public health prevention measures. 

The regulations were outlined during a video conference hosted by the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia on Thursday, which they said are in the process of being reviewed by Nova Scotia's chief medical officer Robert Strang. Strang must give approval before they are implemented. 

These regulations dictate all staff and clients must wear masks at all times. Staff can choose to wear a face shield instead. 

There will be no waiting rooms (clients have to stay in their cars until receiving a text they can come in), no magazines to look at and no drinks available for clients.

If there can’t be six feet between workstations or sinks, a Plexiglas divider must be installed. All reception desks also need a Plexiglas shield and customers can’t touch retail items until after purchase. 

The regulations also forbid double booking clients — a common practice in the beauty industry which allows a stylist to work on more than one client at a time. While one client’s colour is setting, a stylist could start another or do a cut, which increases their earning potential. Estheticians could also start a new customer’s nails while the previous one has dried — but with no waiting rooms, they can’t. 

This inevitable loss in revenue is causing concern for many in the industry, despite their eagerness to get back to work. 

Tracie Breski smiles for a selfie inside her Sydney business, Tracie's Salon and Spa, before having to close due to COVID-19 prevention measures. - Contributed
Tracie Breski smiles for a selfie inside her Sydney business, Tracie's Salon and Spa, before having to close due to COVID-19 prevention measures. - Contributed

“When you’re working and you’re used to working on three or four clients at a time, taking it down to one is going to be hard,” said Alma Head, owner of two Alma’s Family Hair Salon and Tanning locations. 

“That’s going to be a little hard for the profits. Hairdressers live off of double bookings… No customers means no money but hopefully in a few months it can go back to our new normal, whatever that is.” 

Tracie Breski, owner of Tracie’s Salon and Spa in Sydney, also admitted she was a bit concerned about the loss of revenue for her and her staff. 

“We will be working with half the volume of clients we were dealing with before,” said Breskie, who’s been in the industry for 30 years. “It was suggested we raise our prices to offset the loss of revenues and the increase in overhead, but my goal wouldn’t be to put that responsibility back on the client… It’s not their fault this happened.” 

Head also thinks raising prices isn’t feasible. 

“Unless the $80 colour turns into a $200 colour, we can’t raise our prices enough to cover the losses,” she said, noting she hopes the regulations will relax in a few months.

“At the end of the week, you’re going to have some stylists asking is this worth it… If it continues like this, we’re going to see a lot of people leaving this industry.”  

Challenges aside, both salon owners said they were motivated by the video conference, eager to reopen and happy to learn what they’d need to do before getting back to business.

Head, a stylist for more than 30 years, has already started renovating her two salons (in New Waterford and Sydney) estimates it will cost $10,000. Breski is starting to work out the details for her Sydney salon, determining what can be moved to keep six feet (two metres) in between stations and sourcing quotes for Plexiglas dividers. She also estimates costs for her will be “in the thousands” to get the work done. 

However, both are determined to get back to business and make the new style of services work. Focusing on the positives, both stress their main priority is keeping their staff and clients safe and they plan to follow all regulations by the book. At the end of the day, they just want to be working again. 

“I love the spa. I love it,” said Breski. “I love going there. I love the staff. I love the clients. It’s our family. This has all be hard emotionally.” 

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