Ontario beauty sector slams Ford for 'specifically targeting' their industry in shutdowns

Ontario's beauty sector is feeling frustrated and personally attacked by the Ford government’s decision to implement a four-week shutdown starting tomorrow, resulting in the closure of personal care services across the province yet again.

On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced that a provincewide emergency brake shutdown will come into effect on Saturday for at least four weeks, in an effort to curb rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by highly transmissible variants of concerns.

The shutdown requires gyms, indoor dining and hair and nail salons to close up shop. Essential and non-essential retail are allowed to remain open with capacity limits.

“I think there was a lot of shock and disappointment, and obviously anger,” Paola Girotti, chair of the Beauty United Council of Ontario, said about the looming shutdown in an interview with CTV News Toronto Friday morning.

“We want to open. We know how to keep people safe. And we just want to be able to work and help people,” she added.

While the shutdown means personal care services in many parts of the province will have to close up yet again, these services were already shuttered in Toronto and Peel Region since November when these hotspots were moved to the grey lockdown level of the government’s COVID-19 response framework.

A month later on Boxing Day, the government implemented a provincewide lockdown and stay-at-home order forcing all personal care services across the province, along with non-essential businesses, to close due to rising infections.

The government started to lift the stay-at-home order in regions in February allowing them to transition back into various levels of the framework depending on local transmission. However, Toronto and Peel Region remained in the lockdown level due to elevated case counts, resulting in the ongoing closure of personal care services.

"We are going into a third lockdown, we keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same results, the textbook definition of insanity. I think it's time for a new approach,” Peter Gosling from Glassbox Barbershop told CP24 Tonight on Thursday.

Girotti said personal care workers are tired and upset with the ongoing restrictions and that there are other methods the government could use to control transmission in the beauty sector.

“I think that there are other measures that this government can be doing to prevent the spread, including contact tracing. But I'm also really angry because he's specifically targeting our sector, gyms and restaurants. And particularly in Toronto and Peel, we haven't even been open [since November]. We’re not contributing to any of this spread, or these variants,” she said.

Last week, Ford announced that personal care services could reopen in lockdown regions on Apr. 12, but with the new shutdown in place tomorrow that will no longer be the case.

Those in the beauty sector argue that they’ve been ready to open for months and have everything needed to follow public health safety protocols.

"We have stringent health and safety regulations put in for communicable disease like COVID. And the fact that we have not been able to reopen up to today's date or the 12th, is what they promised us, and now it's back into this zone where you still have some things that are non-essential opening is outrageous,” Kristen Gale, creator and CEO of The Ten Spot Beauty Bars told CP24 Tonight.

Girotti said that the Beauty Council of Ontario has reached out to the government to discuss a plan to reopen personal care services safely but that they have not received a response from the Premier.

“It is so frustrating to not have a return phone call from Premier Ford. And he tends to work a lot with the male sector, like this is an industry that is dominated by women. And I'm offended that he has not responded and also Andrea Horvath, shame on her. We've reached out to her several times as the leader of the opposition to support us, no return phone call.” Girotti said.

As personal care workers have been out of a job for months, Girotti also pleaded for the government to consider providing more funding to the beauty sector.

“We would really like the government to reconsider our $30 million request for immediate funding relief. We have expired products on our shelves. You know, he shut us down before Christmas time, we had tons and tons of products there.”

The provincewide shutdown will come into effect on Saturday at 12:01 a.m.