Spas, salons, and their clients suffer in the latest provincial shutdown

From the Tuesday, Jan. 18 edition of The Saint Croix Courier

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The Thursday, Jan. 13 provincial announcement of the implementation of level 3 of the New Brunswick COVID-19 winter plan meant, as per the provincial government website, “… spas and salons are not allowed to operate”.

Gaye Cail is the executive director for the Cosmetology Association of New Brunswick. The association’s website describes it as “a professional self-regulatory licensing body for all aspects of the beauty industry. The objectives of the Association are to promote and improve the education and training of its members and to maintain efficient and sanitary service and facilities for the public.”

Cail had strong words to say about the closures that adversely affect her membership. She told The Saint Croix Courier in a telephone interview the association was “surprised” when the announcement of level 3 meant the complete closure of spas and salons, but permitted retail, massage therapists, and others to remain open. Cail says the spas and salons considered themselves targeted. “We feel that we are the scapegoat for the province. It doesn’t make sense.”

This is the third complete closure spas and salons have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. “It feels,” Cail says of the government’s actions, “like they keep moving the goal posts.”

Cail is concerned for the organization’s members. “A lot of them are single mothers or women with their own establishments and right now they have nothing coming in, or they cannot live on the small amount of money coming in.”

Kara Cleghorn is a self-employed nail technician at Bordertown Beauty Bar Salon and Spa in St. Stephen. She has had to shut down her business three times in the two years since she finished school and began her career. For the first 10-week first shutdown Cleghorn says she received Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) funding. The second time Cleghorn did not qualify for any assistance. For the most recent closure of spas and salons the proposed monies she has heard of, Cleghorn says, “are not enough to live on, once you have to pay your rent at a shop.”

Cleghorn is not as upset about the effect on herself, as she is about the impact of the loss of services for her customers. “I have multiple clients that tell me,” Cleghorn explains, “that something as simple as getting their nails done helps their mental health. They feel more put together; they say they ‘love themselves’ a little more.”

The plight of her regular footcare clients causes Cleghorn even more distress. “Basically, you are on your feet all day, every day. If something’s wrong, it’s important to take care of them right away or they might get worse, or you might get an infection,” she explains. Even more disturbing, in Cleghorn’s opinion, is “the effect on some clients who come in because they can’t physically look after their feet themselves. Maybe they can’t bend over, or maybe they don’t have the strength to clip their own toenails”.

Delayed footcare can “become very painful,” Cleghorn states.

Cleghorn said she hopes the current 16 day spa and salon closure will not be expanded into an even longer shutdown.