Toronto’s hair salons and nail bars are finally opening – while gyms and restaurants look on in frustration

As Ontario moves into Step 2 of its reopening plan on June 30, hair salons and other personal service business owners are relieved to finally be opening their doors after months of closures.But other businesses still waiting in the wings — such as restaurants and gyms — say the reopening is too slow. Given the province’s vaccination rates, they are asking the government to allow them to have indoor clients.Businesses offering personal services, which include hair salons, nail bars and tattoo parlours, can open at 25 per cent capacity, as long as face masks are worn at all times.Nicole Manzer and the staff at Manzer Hair Studio on Danforth Avenue are beyond excited to get back to work.Manzer considers herself fortunate. She pivoted to selling safety equipment early in the pandemic to stay afloat and was able to keep her staff employed. But they’re all itching to return to doing what they love, she said.“It’s been hard not being behind the chair,” she said. “You don’t know who you are without scissors in your hand.” Step 2 was originally scheduled to start July 2 and so Manzer had planned to reopen July 5. Even though the date was moved up to June 30, just two days before the 21-day buffer the province has set between each step, Manzer isn’t changing her reopening date, though she is holding a two-day “soft reopening” before July 5 for high-risk clients. In Step 2, outdoor gatherings and events can include up to 25 people. Indoor gatherings are allowed, with a maximum of five people. Essential retail stores can double their capacity, to 50 per cent, and non-essential retail shops can now allow 25 per cent of capacity inside. Children’s overnight camps are now permitted, as are outdoor amusement parks and sports events. Outdoor fitness classes’ capacities have been expanded, as have capacities for religious services and events. These are no longer based on head count, but on the ability for participants to stay three metres or two metres apart, respectively.Manzer said the volatility of the past year has been stressful, and said some of her peers in the business are retiring early.Meanwhile, Manzer says clients are clamouring to get an appointment. Her salon has a wait-list of 500 people, and she is fielding angry calls from those who want to be first in line.She urges people getting a long-awaited haircut or manicure to be extra patient and kind with employees, many of whom are readjusting to their job after months away. “We’re starting from scratch again,” she said. “Just be kind and be patient. Be nice to us.” Manzer said all the last-minute changes have been frustrating and it has been difficult to plan ahead. “Pick a date, and stick with that date,” she said. But some business owners say the reopening is too slow, compared to the province’s vaccination rates. As of June 28, more than 77 per cent of adult Ontarians had received one COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 37 per cent were fully vaccinated.That’s well beyond the 70 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, required for Step 2 reopening. In fact, Ontario’s third step — likely another three weeks away — requires 25 per cent of adult Ontarians to be fully vaccinated, and 70 to 80 per cent inoculated with one dose. James Rilett, vice​-president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said the second step’s arrival is “frustrating” for restaurants, as not much will change — just two more people allowed on their patios, bringing the maximum to six guests.Rilett said restaurants are ready for indoor dining: “Every other province has done it.”“We’re past the point of patience,” added Rilett, especially with the federal rent and wage subsidies set to start winding down in a matter of days.He noted that Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening came a few days earlier than the mandated 21-day buffer, which tells him the province is open to bending its own rules — especially given that Ontario’s vaccine levels are on the verge of surpassing the required numbers to initiate Step 3.Ford has said that “there’s no one that wants to open this economy up more than I do.”But Rilett is trying not to hold onto hope that Step 3 could come early.“The premier seems to say the right things, but whether that will translate into action … we’ll see,” he said.Jane Riddell, COO and president of GoodLife Fitness, said according to the government’s own vaccination goals, “we should be moving much more quicker into this reopening.”Classes and training have been allowed outdoors in Ontario under Step 1, and capacity for these are increasing with Step 2. But Riddell said it’s getting too hot to host these classes.She said GoodLife has reached out to the government asking to be allowed to open at 25 per cent capacity, or at least for one-on-one personal training, but hasn’t received an answer.But the vaccine rollout is giving Riddell hope. If the government does decide to speed up the reopening, though, she asks that businesses be given notice so they can plan ahead.“The sooner the better,” she

Toronto’s hair salons and nail bars are finally opening – while gyms and restaurants look on in frustration

As Ontario moves into Step 2 of its reopening plan on June 30, hair salons and other personal service business owners are relieved to finally be opening their doors after months of closures.

But other businesses still waiting in the wings — such as restaurants and gyms — say the reopening is too slow. Given the province’s vaccination rates, they are asking the government to allow them to have indoor clients.

Businesses offering personal services, which include hair salons, nail bars and tattoo parlours, can open at 25 per cent capacity, as long as face masks are worn at all times.

Nicole Manzer and the staff at Manzer Hair Studio on Danforth Avenue are beyond excited to get back to work.

Manzer considers herself fortunate. She pivoted to selling safety equipment early in the pandemic to stay afloat and was able to keep her staff employed. But they’re all itching to return to doing what they love, she said.

“It’s been hard not being behind the chair,” she said. “You don’t know who you are without scissors in your hand.”

Step 2 was originally scheduled to start July 2 and so Manzer had planned to reopen July 5. Even though the date was moved up to June 30, just two days before the 21-day buffer the province has set between each step, Manzer isn’t changing her reopening date, though she is holding a two-day “soft reopening” before July 5 for high-risk clients.

In Step 2, outdoor gatherings and events can include up to 25 people. Indoor gatherings are allowed, with a maximum of five people. Essential retail stores can double their capacity, to 50 per cent, and non-essential retail shops can now allow 25 per cent of capacity inside.

Children’s overnight camps are now permitted, as are outdoor amusement parks and sports events. Outdoor fitness classes’ capacities have been expanded, as have capacities for religious services and events. These are no longer based on head count, but on the ability for participants to stay three metres or two metres apart, respectively.

Manzer said the volatility of the past year has been stressful, and said some of her peers in the business are retiring early.

Meanwhile, Manzer says clients are clamouring to get an appointment. Her salon has a wait-list of 500 people, and she is fielding angry calls from those who want to be first in line.

She urges people getting a long-awaited haircut or manicure to be extra patient and kind with employees, many of whom are readjusting to their job after months away.

“We’re starting from scratch again,” she said. “Just be kind and be patient. Be nice to us.”

Manzer said all the last-minute changes have been frustrating and it has been difficult to plan ahead.

“Pick a date, and stick with that date,” she said.

But some business owners say the reopening is too slow, compared to the province’s vaccination rates.

As of June 28, more than 77 per cent of adult Ontarians had received one COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 37 per cent were fully vaccinated.

That’s well beyond the 70 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, required for Step 2 reopening. In fact, Ontario’s third step — likely another three weeks away — requires 25 per cent of adult Ontarians to be fully vaccinated, and 70 to 80 per cent inoculated with one dose.

James Rilett, vice​-president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said the second step’s arrival is “frustrating” for restaurants, as not much will change — just two more people allowed on their patios, bringing the maximum to six guests.

Rilett said restaurants are ready for indoor dining: “Every other province has done it.”

“We’re past the point of patience,” added Rilett, especially with the federal rent and wage subsidies set to start winding down in a matter of days.

He noted that Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening came a few days earlier than the mandated 21-day buffer, which tells him the province is open to bending its own rules — especially given that Ontario’s vaccine levels are on the verge of surpassing the required numbers to initiate Step 3.

Ford has said that “there’s no one that wants to open this economy up more than I do.”

But Rilett is trying not to hold onto hope that Step 3 could come early.

“The premier seems to say the right things, but whether that will translate into action … we’ll see,” he said.

Jane Riddell, COO and president of GoodLife Fitness, said according to the government’s own vaccination goals, “we should be moving much more quicker into this reopening.”

Classes and training have been allowed outdoors in Ontario under Step 1, and capacity for these are increasing with Step 2. But Riddell said it’s getting too hot to host these classes.

She said GoodLife has reached out to the government asking to be allowed to open at 25 per cent capacity, or at least for one-on-one personal training, but hasn’t received an answer.

But the vaccine rollout is giving Riddell hope. If the government does decide to speed up the reopening, though, she asks that businesses be given notice so they can plan ahead.

“The sooner the better,” she said.

Manzer hopes this reopening is the last one, and said the province’s vaccination rates are giving her hope (she and most of her staff will have their second doses by the time the salon reopens).

“What more can we do?” she said. “We have to get back to some sort of normal.”

With files from Robert Benzie