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Easing restrictions: Salons and similar services can now choose to opt out of vaccine requirements

Operators of personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, manicure-pedicure parlors, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios no longer require customers to be vaccinated if they so choose
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While personal care service providers can now opt out of requiring proof of vaccination, physical distancing and mask mandates remain for most services.

The Sudbury public health decision to rescind some of the restrictions put in place back a couple of months ago means that some local personal care service facilities can "opt out" of certain vaccine requirements. But overall, Sudbury residents will still need to wear masks and provide proof of vaccinations for most services.

It was on Feb. 5 that Public Health Sudbury and Districts rescinded a previous position that had placed restrictions on personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, manicure-pedicure parlors, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios. The earlier restrictions included the need for providing proof of vaccination. The stricter measures were introduced back in the second week of December.  

Jonathan Groulx, manager of health protection at PHSD, said the stricter measures are no longer required. He said operators of such personal care services can opt out of the vaccination mandate if they wish. But it also means that they have to follow physical distancing rules of each person being situated at least two metres away from other people.    

"And then, if you choose to opt out and not require proof of vaccination, then you have to respect those physical distancing rules. And it's all outlined in the rules for areas in step three. And this is provincewide. So there's no longer any local restrictions," said Groulx.

But that doesn't mean the vaccine requirements are out across the board. Groulx said many of the proof of vaccine mandates are still in place.

"So it would still be in effect for restaurants, bars, and other kinds of food and drink establishments, meeting and event spaces, indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreation, and a whole bunch of other settings like casinos, bingos, halls and other establishments," Groulx explained. 

In addition to that, Groulx said establishments that require proof of vaccination do not need to maintain the two-metre distancing rule. 

Groulx said local public health mandates usually react to the changes of how the virus is impacting on the local population. He said that's why PHSD issued stricter 

"So at the time of these letters of instructions, we had some of the highest rates in the province of COVID-19 infection. And what we're seeing now is key public health and health care indicators showing signs of improvement across Ontario. And in our service area, we're no longer experiencing marked differences in those key COVID-19 metrics and friends," he said. 

"I think the key message is that our medical officer of health rescinded all the local restrictions to align with what's required across the province. So now what's required in our service area is consistent with the restrictions outlined in the step three rules. So to look at those rules, and, you know, for more information, they can visit our website or contact public health," Groulx added.

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible with funding from the federal government.