Reopening provides salon owner chance to scratch out a living

Personal care services like nails salons, barbers, and stylists can re-open

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As a salon owner, he’s hanging on by his fingernails.

Now Kevin Nguyen, owner of Urban Nails on Danforth Ave., sees Wednesday’s arrival of Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening as a chance to fire up his business and reconnect with clients.

“After more than seven months of lockdown, we are so happy and so excited,” said the salon owner who has been operating for 14 years.

“We suffered for a long time. It’s been hard on everyone; for the staff and for business owners, also,” he added.

“At one point I thought I might just quit. But because of our customers, they are very supportive,” he said of longtime clients who bought gift cards and made donations to help keep him afloat.

As the many living with a mop of COVID hair can attest, there is pent-up demand for barbers, stylists, and nail salons. Nguyen’s business — and those like it — are receiving waves of bookings.

“It is all day, constantly. And not just only for the phone. People call me, they email, or they leave a message on social media,” he said. “For the first week of opening, we are completely booked solid.”

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Personal care services still face limitations.

Face coverings must be worn at all times, and they can only open at 25% capacity.

Nguyen’s 22 employees have staggered shifts, spread out over seven days and longer hours, and only eight workers are allowed in at once.

The arrival of Step 2 has many businesses urging an earlier start to Step 3.

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The province says it will only start after 21 days, if COVID-19 cases and ICU numbers are falling, and if vaccination targets are met.

Ontario has already reached Step 3 vaccination targets.

But the province’s new chief medical officer of health is preaching caution.

“I understand the community’s frustrations,” Dr. Kieran Moore said at his first official briefing. “But we have a new adversary in Ontario. A more aggressive adversary.”

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