THUNDER BAY - Several local hair salons and barber shops that opened in defiance of a province-wide lockdown in June will no longer be required to pay fines issued by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
On June 3, Mirror Mirror Salon, Rebel Barbers & Co., Trendz Hair Studio, and Do or Dye Hair Salon opened to the public despite the province still being in phase one of its reopening plan, which prohibited personal care services from serving customers.
The businesses were each issued $880 in fines along with closure orders and were informed that fines could climb to as much as $25,000 if public health restrictions were not followed. Rebel Barbers also faced a $5,000 fine for refusing to close, before backing down.
The fines were to be challenged in court but the health unit has since waived all fines and closure orders against the businesses.
“In this instance, because through that discussion and conversation and because there was quick compliance, we waived the fines at this time,” said Thunder Bay District Health Unit medical officer of health, Dr. Janet DeMille.
DeMille added that she sympathizes with businesses who have been struggling during lengthy lockdowns and understands their frustrations. But she added that the health unit is required to enforce public health regulations.
“Overall the regulations are set to reduce the spread of COVID in various settings and in the community and it’s our job to be part of the enforcement of that,” she said.
“If we are not doing that, we are essentially allowing someone to break the law. So we did do that enforcement and there was mixed compliance, but in having those ongoing discussions and the possibility of putting on additional charges onto that resulted in achieving that compliance.”
Hair salons and barber shops have since reopened and are not included under the provincial government’s vaccine certificate policy that will take effect on Sept. 22.
But DeMille is encouraging all businesses to continue to follow public health guidelines and regulations.
“In this instance we did end up waiving those because they did come into compliance but we still have to do our job,” she said. “I don’t think any business should assume we are going to waive fines.”