B.C.'s hair and beauty sector must dramatically improve to reopen: minister

Hair salons and beauty businesses will need to dramatically improve hygiene and safety before being allowed to reopen from COVID-19 closures, says B.C.’s health minister.

Adrian Dix said Thursday he wants hair stylists, nail salons, spas, waxing establishments, estheticians, microblading and laser skin treatment centres to come together and improve their practices before being allowed to see customers as the economy reopens in the weeks ahead.

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Those businesses were deregulated by the previous Liberal government in 2003, and now do not have a representative association or standards on cleanliness. The lack of clarity takes on renewed significance for an industry that involves close contact between customers and employees, at a time when the province has instituted strict social distancing measures to limit transmission of COVID-19.

Dix stopped short of saying he would re-regulate the sector with new legislation.

“There has been a live debate for a number of years within that industry as to what that regulation of that industry should be,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for that industry to come together, perhaps to raise standards a bit. But what will be required at a very minimum is to meet the standards put in place by the provincial health officer, which would be the minimum required to start over again.

“Whether that would require new legislation, I don’t know. But with health orders we have in place, it will require a dramatic change to the way people operate.”

Public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are local health rules in place, but the growth of the sector means they are now enforced mainly only when there are complaints.

Henry helped create an online BeautySafe course that educates businesses on hygiene and safety, but it is not mandatory for all operators in the sector.

“I have not considered whether we should take this opportunity to look at regulation again,” she said.

“But I do think it is important in this context that we’re moving into, that we do put in extra precautions that meet our needs to prevent transmission of COVID-19.”

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