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COVID Regulations Across Western Canada

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We have extensively covered the guidelines introduced here in BC, both by the Public Health Office and WorkSafeBC, to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the personal service sector. Since the overlap between the guidelines of each of the Western provinces has been significant, up until now, we haven’t covered them separately. However, as the summer brought increased cases to BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — and we are warned of the potential complications associated with the upcoming flu season — now feels like a good time to refresh our memory and learn from the collective advice of Western Canadian authorities.

Let’s start with the many similarities in our official guidelines.

As is the case in BC, most of the guidelines offered by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are for consideration, and not necessarily mandatory. However, each province does make reference to the Hierarchy of Controls — which always prioritizes physical distancing and avoidance of risky behaviours before physical barriers, and prioritizes both of these controls before PPE.

Major guidelines common among Western provinces include:

  • Discouraging walk-in appointments
  • Staggering appointment times
  • Ensuring ample space between work stations
  • Consider waiving or adjusting cancellations policies
  • COVID questionnaires for staff and clients to ensure they are not presently experiencing symptoms or have not been in contact with someone with COVID in the last 14 days
  • Increased sanitization and disinfecting practices, especially between clients and in common areas
  • Limiting or ceasing food and drink offerings
  • And many more.

Though there are more similarities than differences, there are a few items to highlight from each province.

Alberta

You can find the official guidance for Personal Services in Alberta here.

Some items of note:

  • For longer appointments, it may be necessary to change masks during the appointment — especially if masks become “damp.” 
  • Providing contact information for possible contract tracing is voluntary for the customers. However, businesses can notify them their information will only be used for this purpose by the business (unless they consent otherwise), and their information will only be requested by Alberta Health Services if a potential exposure occurs onsite.
  • Consider creating “dedicated time slots or full days for appointment for high-risk clients.”
  • Artistic consultations that occur prior to a service (for example, for hairdressing) should be conducted online.
  • Consider one-way traffic flow in your business, directed by floor signage.
  • Have customers hang up and retrieve their own coats and personal belongings themselves.
  • There should be a physical barrier between client and provider for face-to-face services (though hands can reach beneath the barrier if needed). Where barriers are not possible, the service provider is expected to wear a mask and the client is encouraged to.
  • It is recommended that jetted pedicure tubs not be used at this time.
  • Waxing, piercing and injections near the mouth, nose, eyes and genitals are discouraged at this time. If performing these services, workers should wear, at a minimum, gloves, masks, eye protection and disposable aprons. 
  • Particle and dust generating procedures are not recommended at this time, unless the spread of the virus through the air can be eliminated. Control measures can include using suction when performing tattoo removal, hair removal or skin rejuvenation with IPL or some lasers, as well as when using high-speed manicure drills and some microdermabrasion equipment.
    *Consider the hierarchy of controls when preventing the spread of particles and dust (i.e. the safest option is to postpone these activities altogether).

Further, in certain places in Alberta, masks are required in all indoor public spaces. However, there are some exceptions — for example, when eating or drinking, or when getting a service that prohibits it. Please check with your local regulations to be sure.

Saskatchewan:

You can find the full guidance for Personal Services in Saskatchewan here.

Some items of note:

  • Hand sanitizers must be approved by Health Canada (with either a DIN or NPM number) — this is mentioned twice in the official guidelines.
  • Wherever possible, employees should use their own products and tools instead of sharing.
  • Linens and clothing should be laundered on the highest possible temperature setting and ensure complete drying.
  • All label instructions for disinfecting need to be adhered to, including contact time.
  • Workplaces need to provide tissues, no-touch trash receptacles and disposable towels.
  • Service providers should not only wear a mask, but also eye protection and an apron. Staff that are older and/or have a weakened immune system should wear a procedural/surgical mask.
  • Glove-use is not required, but if they are used, they should be changed between every client and task, plus hand hygiene (washing or sanitizer) between every change.
  • All workplaces need protocols for putting on and removing PPE, plus instructions for proper disposal of PPE.

Saskatchewan also provides this online self-assessment tool to determine if you should be tested.

Manitoba

You can find Manitoba’s official “Workplace Guidelines for Business Owners” here and specific instructions for Personal Services here.

Some items of note:

  • If using PPE, it should be with the guidance of a health and safety office or committee, as “safe use of PPE relies on a worker’s understanding of how to use it safety.” Otherwise, PPE can give a false sense of security, increase risk if used improperly, and cause people to touch their faces more often.
  • Employees may wear medical masks if physical distancing of two metres can’t be maintained and exposure is greater than 10 minutes. There are further instructions on how to properly wear, put on, and remove masks here.
  • Occupancy limits are 50% of normal business levels, or one person per 10 square metres.
  • Businesses must maintain a single point of entry.

This article also suggests that it is becoming more common for businesses in Manitoba to require masks to enter, including some hair salons, nail bars and spas.

As we all know, the COVID situation is constantly changing, so it’s essential that you stay up-to-date with your local guidelines at all times. Let’s all ensure our industry is compliant with safety regulations, so that we can decrease the likelihood of future restrictions that may affect all our businesses.

Want to show your clients that you take their health and safety seriously? Get BeautySafe certified here.

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