Will Woods, the owner of a Lethbridge tattoo shop, says he will open on Jan. 11, no matter what the COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta turn out to be.

The owner of Peppermint Hippo Tattoo said he will be open for business on Monday regardless of what protocols are in place.

Will Woods said he’s heard that up to 20 small business owners in Lethbridge are also planning to open on Jan. 11, although most are not making their intentions public at this time.

Woods said it doesn’t make sense to keep small businesses that had been following the rules stay closed, while big companies are open and flourishing.

“We’re frustrated and upset,” he said.

Woods added seeing so many politicians travel over the Christmas holidays was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“And we should forgive them? No. You’re at a standard above us – you should be doing what you were told, as we have been doing.”

Woods pointed out the politicians who ignored travel advice are still getting paid, while he and his wife are faced with the prospect of losing their business.

“Nobody’s going to pay me. I have no bailouts,” said Woods. “The longer these lockdowns continue, our business is going to disappear anyway.”

The Electric Skin Clinic in Lethbridge also posted on its Facebook page that the medical spa was planning to reopen next week. The message said they could not survive any more shut downs and refused to lose everything they have worked so hard for.

“Our belief is if hockey teams can still play, hundreds of people can shop at Costco or ski together we are more than capable of providing an even safer environment with a one-on-one setting and our current protocols.”

The post added, “if politicians can take a vacation, people should be able to relax at the spa.”

Tattoo shops and other personal services in Alberta were ordered closed on Dec. 13, 2020, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The closures are expected to last until at least Jan. 12.

Lethbridge gym owner Lee Mein is also planning to re-open his facility next week whether or not the government removes restrictions on fitness facilities.

Mein posted a video on his Facebook page, stating on Jan. 11 he was opening his gym, the Canadian Martial Arts Centre.

“We’re going to open full, we are going to do everything we always do. We’re going to be healthy. We are going to be fit.”

Mein maintains that since it’s safe for government officials to travel, and safe for big box stores to open, then it’s also safe for small businesses and gyms to be open.

“I get it there’s a pandemic,” said Woods, who stressed he is not an anti-masker.

He said Peppermint Hippo will continue to follow protocols that were in place before the shop was closed in mid-December.

He said that means everyone will wear masks, clients will be six feet apart and the doors will be locked, with tattoos being done by appointment only.

“One client per artist. How is that hurting anybody?”

Woods said from the moment he posted his intention to reopen he began receiving calls from people seeking to book an appointment. He has been told that three or four other tattoo shops also plan to reopen Monday.