Coronavirus: B.C. barbers feel sidelined in reopening discussions, push for clarity

Barbers in British Columbia are expressing concern about being left out of discussions to reopen barbershops in mid-May, citing confusing health and safety requirements amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a media release penned by barbers from across B.C., including Thomas Hart in Penticton, the men’s grooming professionals claimed their industry was deregulated in 2003.

They’ve since been under the guidance of the Western Canada Beauty Council, they said, which has directed barbers to seek clarity on standards and safe practices from WorkSafeBC.

“Since the provincial government announced the phase two re-opening plan for mid-May, a movement of over 100 BC Barbers has formed asking for clarity regarding standards of re-opening,” Hart said.

“Barbers are the canaries in the coalmine, and I’m not willing to put anyone at risk.”

Personal service businesses, including barbers, hair salons and nail salons, are included in phase two of B.C.’s reopening plan, slated to take effect after the May long weekend.

“I have created an email address to start a discussion for the industry where barbers can put forward ideas. One idea is a self-regulated professional Barbers Association,” he said.

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Hart says barbers who are interested in participating in the discussion can email [email protected]

A meeting has been scheduled between concerned barbers and WorkSafeBC representatives on May 13, he said.

In a statement issued to Global News, WorksafeBC says industry-specific resources, including checklists, planning templates and training materials, will be posted online later this week.

“WorkSafeBC will also be engaging directly with employers and workers in returning industries through education, consultation, and workplace inspections to support them as they build their COVID-19 safety plan to return to partial or full operation,” the agency said.

The B.C. government announced its four phase reopening plan last week as the rate of growth in COVID-19 cases has steadily declined.

The province has the lowest mortality of an jurisdiction in North America or Europe with a population of more than five million, the province said.

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