Growing concerns as 'underground' market for hair cuts takes shape
WATERLOO -- There are growing concerns in Waterloo Region about an underground market for hair cuts, with stylists choosing to work under the radar of the province's pandemic restrictions.
Personal care services remain prohibited in Step 1 of Ontario's reopening plan, but some say they’re hearing stories of people taking the clippers and scissors into clients' backyards for a trim.
Allison Christie, owner of Chez Allison Organic Salon in Guelph, said despite her shop being closed she's still getting requests for underground hair cuts.
"I've also had people contact me for the very same reason, 'I'll give you one $100 cash if you come to my backyard and cut my hair,' and I've said no every time," she said. "It's a bit problem in the industry."
Christie says she's learned some stylists are choosing to continue working under the radar, flouting public health rules in the process.
"It's quite scary, there's no way to be certified," she said. "There's no way to track things."
Christie says there are many long-term risks to the industry when hairstylists choose to operate illegally under Step 1 of the province's reopening plan, including a potential shift in the industry.
"The safety, they may stop going for education, they may cut corners and they may not do the same cleanliness," she said.
Lance Neilson, co-owner of Element Hair in Waterloo, says the risky practice is common in the city.
"I've talked to people who are doing it and I've seen posts online of people looking for other people to get haircuts," he said. "There's concern because one it's not safe and it's an unmonitored environment. It's actually illegal believe it or not."
But there are consequences on the line for offering underground hair cuts, including provincial fines of up to $750.
In Kitchener, municipal bylaws allow for a $310 fine for operating an unlicensed business.
Hair salons are allowed to reopen in Step 2, which, under the province’s current timeline, could kick in as early as July 2.