Whitehorse Daily Star

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GUIDELINES CALLED PROBLEMATIC – Melanie Graham, the owner of Kutters Hairstyling, is seen through the Lexan on her premises early this afternoon. She believes the Yukon government’s personal service business guidelines for reopening lack detail and an understanding of the industry they’re addressing.

With trepidation, business owner readies to reopen

Melanie Graham, the owner of Kutters Hairstyling, estimates she has spent between $8,000 and $10,000 on safety equipment in preparation for reopening her salon.

By Gabrielle Plonka on May 22, 2020

Melanie Graham, the owner of Kutters Hairstyling, estimates she has spent between $8,000 and $10,000 on safety equipment in preparation for reopening her salon.

“We’re taking this as our trial run before the fall hits, to make sure everything works and we feel safe,” Graham told the Star today.

She received the Yukon government’s guidelines for personal service businesses earlier this week, and said she expected to receive a definitive reopening date this afternoon.

“They were a good overview,” Graham said.

“I think they were meant to give everybody the opportunity to put into place what will work in their salon, in their area, so they’re not really definitive guidelines.”

Most personal services businesses have gone above and beyond what the guidelines require, which Graham said were lacking in detail and understanding of the industry they’re addressing. Reading the guidelines left Graham with unanswered questions.

“I like firm direction, which not everybody does,” Graham said.

The guidelines require a certain distance between hairdressing stations, but Graham noted that some salons are not built with that space between them.

She was unclear about whether she could install partitions or if she would have to skip a station.

“No one really answered that,” Graham said.

“It didn’t cover everything I thought should be covered, but most of us have gone above and beyond anyways.”

Graham said she wishes the government had asked representatives from the personal service industry to outline some guidelines that would be workable for salons.

“It feels like the government has tried to reinvent the wheel in industries nobody knows,” Graham said.

“It’s been a little bit of a frustrating process … I don’t understand why the government wouldn’t have grabbed a couple people from each industry and said, ‘why don’t you write some guidelines?’”

Wading through the guidelines was initially challenging, Graham said, but a government official helped with the process and provided clear direction.

“We met one person in government who has been amazing; communication has been amazing,” Graham said.

“She is a lifesaver, she has saved us so much heartache and stress.”

Graham said the operational plan for Kutters has been submitted and was approved within 48 hours, as per the government’s promised approval timeline.

The safety precautions at Kutters are modelled after what businesses have put into place in other jurisdictions, and go beyond what the government actually requires.

There is plexiglass at the front desk, an expensive installation that Graham said costs between $400 and $650. There are also plastic partitions between hairdressing stations and sinks.

The guidelines don’t require that partitions be installed, but Graham is looking to prepare extensively in case the virus resurges this fall.

“This is our trial run for the fall, when chances are, this is going to blossom again and the virus is going to rear its ugly head,” Graham said.

“We don’t want to go through another three-months shutdown.”

Graham is hopeful that if COVID-19 rules are reinstated, her salon woud be permitted to remain open because of the extensive precautions put in place.

As well as the partitions and spacing, only five staff members will be able to work in the salon at a time to enable distancing. Cleaning procedures will be ramped up, she said.

Every client will be asked to wear a mask upon entering the salon. Graham said she ordered 600 masks at the beginning of April and is awaiting their arrival.

Graham said she is feeling some trepidation about reopening, paired with the exhaustive process of getting organized for it, though she is excited to connect with clients again.

There is some concern that salon clients will refuse to wear the masks, or otherwise argue against the safety precautions.

“Please don’t do that,” Graham said.

“I hope everyone is understanding of the fact we are trying to keep everyone safe.”

The experience of visiting a salon, esthetician or tattoo parlour will be a little different due to the safety guidelines, but Graham said she is confident staff are up to the task.

“I think people who are in personal service industries are, mostly by nature, caring and nurturing people,” Graham said.

“We will try to make it as gentle and normal as possible. Yes, it’s going to be different, but we’re still us.”

See story on more government COVID-19 relief measures, p. 6; Yukoners’ commentaries, letters in today’s expanded Opinion section.

Comments (18)

Up 5 Down 8

Anie on May 27, 2020 at 4:06 pm

My opinion: that is precisely what government did. They mandated 6'. How to accomplish that was left to business. People complain about two much regulation, then they want their hand held.

Up 9 Down 10

Patti Eyre on May 27, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Once again I have to help educate Juniper! I don't mind, but it is a lot of work. You probably don't know about a country called New Zealand. It is a small country, but one that shut down and did all the things that Canada did but sooner and more efficiently. There are many others too!

Up 22 Down 2

My Opinion on May 26, 2020 at 9:22 pm

It is funny how small businesses were shut completely down while the Big Boxes operated with impunity. Check out the Social distancing in those stores, and nobody cares. hmmmm

And of course Booz and Pot were essential.

Up 17 Down 3

My Opinion on May 26, 2020 at 9:19 pm

If I hear one more person say the "New Normal" I am going to scream. Get that out of your head. That is the thought police speaking.

Up 4 Down 3

My Opinion on May 26, 2020 at 9:12 pm

@ Roy

Absolutely. That is how it should work. Why would you go through the expense of changing everything as you think it should be only to be told that is not antiquate? The government is the one that has the final say. Just tell them what is required.

You have building codes. You don't just build and then have them say you didn't guess right. Why do people not see this?

Up 5 Down 2

My Opinion on May 26, 2020 at 9:08 pm


It is not at all unreasonable to ask them what they want. Why would you have to come up with all the criteria as they are going to tell you to change it. Why not just come and tell you what they want so you do not spend money needlessly?

Up 17 Down 9

Juniper Jackson on May 25, 2020 at 10:25 pm

If people are scared, stay home. A lot of people drank the poisonous koolaid, called fear.
Canada is the only country in the world where the government shut down. Trudeau hiding in his cottage for over 6 weeks. He runs his mouth every morning, says things like.. STAY HOME, don't go to your cottage for the long weekend.. as he takes off for his cottage. Sandy shut down YTG, but the Ontario didn't.. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/how-contagious-is-covid-19-compared-to-other-viral-diseases-1.4836734
What we are being told is not what is happening.. but we are still being forced to adhere to 'emergency measures' as if 7,000 Yukoners (the prediction that never happened) and that half of us would die (another prediction that never happened) were still in place. Now we are being told.. we're keeping the border closed so that we miss the second wave, that's going to be lethal.. uh huh.. cry wolf much? People are pushing back, wising up, looking at the world news, not just this little dot..that's a pretty narrow horizon. I hope something happens about our doctors.. real easy to get a phone appt. real hard to actually see a doctor. Even to talk to a doctor you have to tell some stranger why you want to talk to one.. pretty embarrassing.

When this is over, what I will remember is that I, and everyone else was threatened with arrest, with huge fines, control.. ultimate socialism in action.. two RCMP showed up at the baseball diamonds today. Outside, UV rays. everyone got scared and ran to their isolated diamonds. This has already gotten nasty outside with marchers and protests, with increased family violence, drinking, drugs, suicide. More and more of our shelves empty, food being rationed. When you put a sign up saying 1 to a family, or 1 to a customer..that IS rationing our food.. There are a lot of problems. Take a look at the link above.

Up 11 Down 4

yukon72 on May 25, 2020 at 1:28 pm

A 2way microphone/speaker system installed in the plexiglass barrier will allow for safe communication between customer and employee. My security camera has this feature at a cost of about $150.

Up 20 Down 1

but you can't hear! on May 25, 2020 at 8:39 am

The thing about this plexiglass is that no one is considering that you can't hear either person on either side. I don't know how many times I've had to step beside the plexiglass so that the person on the other side can hear me. I guess if it blocks voices, it probably blocks germs...

Up 24 Down 9

Unfeckingbelievable! on May 23, 2020 at 10:03 pm

@ JC - Yes you did. They could care less about the damage they are doing. In fact, they do not see the damage they are doing, only the satisfaction they take from the chaos. Sociopaths feed on the carnage and will not relent until they are made to. Good luck at the next election and remember, be kind to one another, you never know when you will need an easily accessible scapegoat in the Yukon Hunger Games... Where the Government and the Courts play slap and tickle with one another. Where the Liberal Government taketh and the silver-tongued devil makes a mockery out of what could have been premier leadership... The Yukon did not dodge the silver bullet to the Yukonomy... The Yukon did not win the last election and took second place silver...

Up 27 Down 5

Unfeckingbelievable! on May 23, 2020 at 9:36 pm

Dear Roy - Everyone should be concerned with liability. The government is both the maker and the enforcer of rules. As we have seen time and again with Liberal governments they have a tendency to deny the vulnerable and pander to those with political power.

So, truck that! You want to make the rules you make them clear and unambiguous. Do your fecking jobs. Too many times have we seen governments create confusion, cause problems, and then the government with its unending resources “harassligates” its victims into submission.

Up 13 Down 1

tnk on May 23, 2020 at 1:49 pm

@Janbro if your main thing is getting your ''mustache'' waxed and may have difficulty wearing a mask I guess you could just buy at home wax strips from the superstore. It takes like 1 min to rub hand stick on and peel off or there are lots of non painful options like Lipstick Shape ''Mini Electric Painless Facial Epilator'' removes hair super quick no pain you can buy them on amazon.

Up 10 Down 6

Janbro on May 22, 2020 at 8:59 pm

I will gladly wear a mask into salon/estatician establishment. But how will we deal with the meno-mustasche, the real reason for the visit. I'm used to holding my breath while my gal rips the wax strip off. I'm not sure it will work well with a mask. Sign me up now for rendezvous 2021 hairiest lip contest.

Up 12 Down 3

Colleen on May 22, 2020 at 8:12 pm

Animal - your comment is unfair. The question is legitimate for the industry.

Up 25 Down 32

JC on May 22, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Just open up folks. The government doesn't have the right to dictate orders with out legislation. Canada/Yukon is still a freedom democracy. We didn't elect dictators.

Up 23 Down 22

Roy on May 22, 2020 at 6:22 pm

I agree with Anie. Through this whole thing, everyone sits around and waits for the Gov't to tell them what to do, and then they play dumb when it suits their purposes. Oh wait, I know why: Liability. If you wait for the Gov't to tell you what to do, if something goes wrong, it's *their* fault. Pathetic.

Up 34 Down 3

donna johnston on May 22, 2020 at 4:58 pm

ok - I have a friend who owns a salon - she is the only one working there - she has only one client at a time - why is she required to put up plexiglass- etc -?

Up 17 Down 94

Anie on May 22, 2020 at 4:19 pm

"The guidelines require a certain distance between hairdressing stations, but Graham noted that some salons are not built with that space between them.
She was unclear about whether she could install partitions or if she would have to skip a station."

Really? You needed clearer direction? So long as the distance requirements are met, it's up to you to figure out how to meet them. Gheez.

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