Guelph hair salon owner faces summons if she reopens during ’emergency brake’

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A Guelph salon owner says she was told if she kept trying to stay open during the provincial “emergency brake” she would end up in court.

The “emergency brake” went into effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m. On Tuesday, Pina Marfisi opened her business, Acqua Salon, on Quebec Street in downtown Guelph. Bylaws officers arrived shortly after it opened and issued a warning for non-compliance with the Reopening of Ontario Act (Flexible Response to COVID-19).

Just after noon, as Marfisi and some of his employees were speaking with a CBC News reporter, the settlement officers returned. She said she expected to receive an $880 note, which she was willing to pay.

Marfisi said the settlement would not, in fact, issue an $880 ticket. Instead, officers were prepared to issue a subpoena. If found guilty, the court could impose a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for directors and officers of a corporation and up to $10 million for a corporation.

“I’ll take the court date if they leave us alone, but they won’t leave us alone. They will harass us every day and maybe lose our business license. So our hands are tied,” Marfisi said afterward. talking to the rules. officers.

She said she wasn’t sure she could afford to continue fighting the shutdown order.

“I guess they want more bankruptcies in downtown Guelph. They’ve already lost a lot of businesses, so they’re taking my license away, they’re also losing my business, of which I own two,” he said. she declared.

City spokeswoman Stacey Hare confirmed in an email that the settlement visited the Acqua salon on Tuesday, but while the salon was open, they weren’t doing business.

“If the settlement returns and sees the cases pending, the city will pursue a court summons,” Hare said.

The association requests data

Marfisi said there was little evidence of COVID-19 outbreaks in hair salons or personal services and none in the city.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reports on its online COVID-19 dashboard that there have been no outbreaks related to personal services, including hair salons, tattoo parlors, nail salons or the hot tubs.

Brianna Cook, who is a stylist at the salon, says staff have spent previous lockdowns researching what they need to do to keep people safe. She said the company has invested in personal protective equipment for stylists and staff, single-use capes for clients, cleaning products and barriers between chairs.

“Obviously our industry is extremely knowledgeable about disinfection and sanitation,” Cook said.

“I really hope that no one will take our decision to reopen in opposition to the realities of the virus and the people who are getting sick. We have all the sympathy for this and we understand that it is very serious.”

The Ontario Professional Hairstylist Association has also asked the province to show data to back up salon closures.

Tanya Hill, the association’s vice president, said in a statement dated March 25 that other industries that have seen outbreaks are still cleared to operate.

“Hairdressers and salons are being punished for the lax health and safety standards of other industries because we are an easier target to police and are unable to hire lobbyists. It’s unfair and is not supported by evidence,” Hill said.

Acqua salon stylist Teija Tucker, left, and owner Pina Marfisi, center, chat with a Guelph bylaw officer. Marfisi made the decision to open the salon on Tuesday in defiance of a provincial order closing personal services, which also includes nail salons and tattoo parlors. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

In a statement to CBC News last month, Ontario’s Ministry of Health said it “recognizes the impact of public health and workplace safety measures, including business closures, and continues to balance the need to take steps to prevent transmission of COVID-19 while maintaining access to settings and services that are important to Ontarians.”

Call on politicians to act

Marfisi called on local politicians to defend the interests of businesses that have been forced to close. She said she had conversations with local politicians at the municipal, provincial and federal levels and said she didn’t feel like they were listening to her concerns. Instead, she says, politicians currently seem to be focused on securing business grants to help defray the costs.

“We don’t want to receive government subsidies. We want to work. That’s the main thing,” she said. “We’re healthy. We’re working healthy. We’re trying to keep everyone healthy.”

Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner, who is also leader of the Green Party of Ontario, said he sent an open letter to Premier Doug Ford addressing concerns that local small businesses in Guelph had shared with him, “including the need to expand the small business grant support.”

“I feel for salons and other businesses that are closed right now. Ford’s half measures have resulted in this endless cycle of closing and reopening. And it’s unfair that big box stores can sell non-essential goods “Schreiner said in an emailed statement. . “The Prime Minister needs to step up and provide the financial support that small businesses need right now.”

“We are not spreading the virus”

Teija Tucker, another stylist at the salon, said she understood there were mixed feelings about the salon’s efforts to stay open. The show’s social media feeds are filled with comments from people who both support the company and others who are critical of the move.

“We are not spreading the virus and we are doing everything we can to prevent people from getting sick in our facility. I want the government to understand where the problem is,” she said.

“We are a safe place to work. Our staff and the owners of these businesses have gone out of their way to keep staff and our guests safe.”

Marfisi says he heard of some people who went to people’s homes to get their hair cut, creating an “underground industry”.

“It’s so unfair,” she said.

Stylists Teija Tucker, left, and Brianna Cook, middle, stand with Acqua salon owner Pina Marfisi outside the salon on Quebec Street in downtown Guelph on Tuesday. The front windows of the living room are covered with signs thanking frontline workers, testimonials and charts showing local case counts. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

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