Suggestions to assist the Personal Service Industry in British Columbia return to work

(Updated Oct. 1, 2020)

Need some ideas around what to focus on for safe operation for personal services in BC? We’re here to help.

We highly recommend our “What we know” article for the most up to date information we have, and to follow the guidelines of WorkSafeBC and the Public Health Officer.

We have created this document from our recommendations presented to the Province’s task force in charge of any new standards that may be coming. These are the core idea from many meetings and substantial research. Please note they are simply suggestions and the official protocols should be followed as the government releases them. 

NOTE: This document contains suggestions that may assist you in returning to work. It is not meant as legal advice or to provide a legal opinion on steps necessary to comply with government rules and regulations and should not be relied upon as such. You are responsible for ensuring that you comply with the law and all safety procedures. You must adhere to the protocols from WorkSafeBC and the Provincial Health Officer and Environmental Health Offices. We are not responsible or liable for reliance on this document if it does not conform to the law or safety procedures applicable to you and your business.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 3

Scope of sectors and professional services included in this plan.. 3

Plan to reopen.. 3

Physical space.. 3

Amenities. 4

Reception and common areas. 4

Retail Area.. 5

Interior Areas. 5

Client management. 5

Congestion management. 6

PPE (Note – these are suggestions only and subject to protocols from the PHO and WSBC). 7

Sanitation protocols specific to COVID-19.. 7

Tools and items requiring disinfection.. 8

Single-use only (do not reuse). 9

Service, staffing, and management adjustments.. 9

Proposed next steps. 10

Appendix A.. 11


The Beauty Council of Western Canada / British Columbia Barbers’ Association (Cosmetology Association Western Canada) is committed to working with the government to develop a responsible set of suggestions for the reopening of the province’s personal services establishments (PSE). After listening to our industry constituents, researching success in similar industries, and collaborating with fellow associations across Canada, we are confident these suggestions represent the best interests of PSEs and their clients. Furthermore, these suggestions support the provincial government’s goal of breaking the chains of transmission of COVID-19 among people in British Columbia. These suggestions are not meant as legal advice or to provide a legal opinion on steps necessary to comply with government rules and regulations and should not be relied upon as such.

Scope of sectors and professional services included in this plan

Our plan encompasses a wide range of personal care services, including:

  • Hair: cuts, chemical services, and styling services for men and women.
  • Barbering: same to “Hair” but limited to men plus shaving and facial hair grooming.
  • Esthetics: skin care services such as facials, microdermabrasion, extractions, lymphatic drainage, massage, etc.
  • Nails: manicures, pedicures, polish application, and artificial nail extensions
  • Hair removal: waxing, threading, electrolysis, and sugaring.
  • Lashes: artificial lash extensions
  • Makeup: makeup application
  • Other body modification services including piercing, microblading, micropigmentation, laser services for hair removal, skin resurfacing, tattoo removal, etc. For clarity, while micropigmentation and microblading involve the placement of small amounts of ink under skin, we do not consider it “tattooing” (defined below).

Excluded from our plan are:

  • Tattooing. Specifically, stand-alone tattoo parlours where ink is applied to a large part of the body, usually to create artwork or words on skin.

Plan to reopen

Physical space

Salon operations with a fixed location can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following these guidelines.


  • No distribution of refreshments except for bottled water in original packaging. Empty bottles to be handed back to salon operators with cap replaced and deposited into recycling bins by the client. Water bottles to never be left unattended.
  • If clients bring in a beverage in a disposable cup, used cups to be safely disposed of and not left unattended. Clients should be discouraged from bringing in food, beverages, or gifts. Consistent signage is recommended.
  • No food, snacks, candies for clients.
  • No magazines, booklets, brochures, or product sell sheets in the client or staff areas.
  • No loaner tablets, phones, or electronic devices.

Reception and common areas

  • Plexiglass or tempered glass barrier to establish a physical barrier between reception workers and clients.
  • Reception seats for clients and work chairs for staff separated in accordance with social distancing guidelines of 2m (6 feet).
  • Clearing of any surfaces of samples, decorative artwork, or objects which may encourage handling.
  • Taped lines or indicators on floor or to guide physical distancing for reception and other areas where congestion is possible:
    • Taping a box on floor where a 2m distance cannot be achieved by two people. Box should indicate only “one person allowed in this space”.
    • Where two means of passage exits to and from an area, designating one way for each to allow for traffic to flow in a single direction in each of the two passages.
    • Consistent signage is recommended.
  • No pens, pencils, notepads to be exchanged between client and operator.
  • Sufficient hand sanitizer with minimum 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol content dispensers or disinfectant wipes designed for hand sanitation to allow all clients and staff to use as needed at reception, and all stations. Place hand sanitizer at entrance.
  • Box of facial tissue available. Client or staff to self-serve while not holding box (adhere box to desktop or place in a heavy box holder), and remove top tissue and disposing, use second tissue dispensed. Properly dispose of tissue in bag-lined garbage container followed by hand hygiene.
  • No use of rebooking cards or handing out business cards.
  • Between clients, wipe down surfaces including reception desk, chairs or couches with attention to armrests, retail area touch-points, and interior door handle. Use standard surface cleaning protocols using a virucidal agent.

Retail Area

  • Products may be fully stocked.
  • Discourage clients from handling products. Consistent signage is recommended.
  • No samples, brochures, electronic displays.
  • Provide retail products in clean, new bags. No reusable bags allowed by clients.
  • Return of products is not allowed.
  • Once every four hours, wipe retail area surfaces and any products suspected of being touched by clients or staff, using standard surface cleaning protocols using a virucidal agent.
  • Clients seeking to buy products may not walk-in as per no walk-in protocol. Arrange in advance and schedule the pick up to avoid overlapping of service clients waiting in reception, or checking in or out for services. Consistent signage is recommended.

Interior Areas

  • Bathrooms are well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels and that warm running water is available.
  • Staff rooms adhere to industry standards and discourage congestion within those spaces. These rooms must have hand sanitizer with 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol content.
  • Commonly used surfaces must be cleaned every 4 hours using standard surface cleaning protocols using a virucidal agent. Examples include countertops, desktops, and any staff room surfaces such as laundry machines.
  • High touch objects must be cleaned every hour using standard surface cleaning protocols using a virucidal agent. Examples include doorknobs or push-plates, commonly used keyboards, and mice or trackpads, touch-screens, back-bar dispensers, handles on machines and devices, and any high-touch buttons, dials, or tools.  

Client management

  • Communicate to clients a clear expectation of a revised salon experience, including:
    • Arrival procedures, punctuality, and limits on the number of people in the establishment.
    • New rules around physical distancing, outside food and beverage rules, and requirements for hand hygiene before and after services.
    • New rules around minimizing items brought into the establishment such as shopping bags. No gifts for staff including gift cards.
    • Any requirements relating to client-worn PPE such as a mask.
    • Screening questions completed (and reviewed by staff) prior to arriving in establishment. Find screening resources at the bottom of this article.
  • Where required, perform client consults over a phone call prior to arrival
  • Clear, consistent signage in the establishment to inform clients on rules around handling items, physical distancing, PPE requirements, hand hygiene, and any restrictions as determined by the Provincial Health Officer.
  • Clients to keep their coat, bags or purses on their person and leave at the styling station.
  • During departure payment guidelines:
    • Where possible, used touchless payment processing and avoid having “tip” feature on keypad device which requires clients to handle the keyboard. Send receipts via email or text where practical.
    • Clean any keypad device with standard cleaning protocols; with a cloth dampened with approved virucidal agent left for 10 minutes. Clean every hour.
    • Employees who handle cash must wash hands when leaving to another area of the establishment, and before breaks, end of their shift, or eating.

Congestion management

  • Book appointments with a 10-minute additional gap to allow for sanitation using standard surface cleaning protocols using a virucidal agent. Ensure service area surfaces are allowed the correct time for virucidal agent to be effective (typically 10 minutes).
  • Clients to arrive on their own. Children, friends, or family accompaniment is discouraged.
    • If a client requires assistance or accompaniment, a family member or caregiver may accompany (provided that family member has been isolating with the client) the client to the establishment. In the case of assistance required throughout the service, the family member must follow the same protocols as any regular client would.
  • Walk-in clients discouraged. For retail-only sales, arrange in advance and schedule the pick up to avoid overlapping of service clients waiting in reception, or checking in or out for services.
  • Advise clients to check in no earlier than the exact time before their appointment. This allows effective sanitation of reception areas and interior areas. In the case of a client leaving the establishment later than expected, the following client will need to wait outside the establishment and maintain physical distancing protocols. Pre-appointment communication and on-site signage is recommended.
    • In the case of special needs clients or clients requiring assistance, allow for additional time for the arrival and departure process to allow for the 10-minute gap for cleaning.
  • If possible, check-in by phone or app.
  • Identify areas where congestion usually occurs and tape physical distancing makers and advise clients and staff to keep that area clear.
  • Use every other station to maintain social distancing if needed.
  • Schedule shampooing so no two clients are less than 2m (6 feet) apart
  • In the case of double bookings, protocols around physical distancing must be applied to both clients.
    • Staff must wash hands when switching between clients.
    • Tools cannot be shared (shears, irons, etc.).
    • Chairs and sinks must be sanitized if clients share these and apply the minimum contact time with virucidal cleaners (typically 10 minutes).

PPE (Note – these are suggestions only and subject to protocols from the PHO and WSBC)

  • Nail services:
    • Both staff and clients must wear N95 grade masks throughout services, in particular while any dust producing activity is underway.
  •  For all other services:
    • Non-medical grade masks required for staff and clients
      • In the case of facials, staff must wear both a mask and face shield.
    • Of note – no talking by staff or client during hair washing services.
  • Glove use remains as usual for the mitigation of cuts caused by implements to prevent blood-borne transmission only. Hands must be washed prior to and after the use of gloves. Glove use at the discretion of staff and clients.
    • Of note – gloves should not be used where they discourage regular hand hygiene.
  • Physical barrier required for manicure services where client may extend hands through cut out at table level.
  • Freshly laundered (according to hygiene protocols) gowns and capes for each hair service client.

We recommend PSEs do not reopen if they are not able to secure enough PPE for the appointments they book. 

Sanitation protocols specific to COVID-19

  • All staff and independent contractors should be competent in up-to-date, infection prevention protocols relevant to provincial PSE guidelines.
    • Evidence of training to provide health inspectors confidence of operator competence in salon hygiene and disinfection protocols.
  • Cleaning agents must state the solution is “virucidal” and be appropriate for effective sanitation in the establishment.
  • Greet clients respecting the 2m guideline and do not engage in any physical contact such as handshaking, hugging, fist-bumping.
  • A health questionnaire to determine if a client is experiencing any COVID-19 like symptoms. Required for each client before the appointment. Beauty Council has developed a downloadable version with wording and recommendations around privacy. We also suggest the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool. Both available at this link.
  • Client gowns and capes to be washed after each use and sealed in a plastic bag.  Laundered after each use in water not less than 65C.
  • Used towels must be removed from the styling area immediately and stored in plastic bags to be laundered.
  • Surface virucidal disinfectant and appropriate applicators available at each station for staff use.
  • Cleaning down furniture at stations between client with disinfectants according to manufacturers’ specifications.
  • Isolate tools per client at station
  • Wash all tools and brushes, submerged in warm, soapy water and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Allow to dry.
  • Scheduled disinfection of regularly used surfaces, i.e. door handles, phones, POS machines, common surfaces.
  • Do not use neck brushes – use a clean, freshly laundered cloth to remove hair from neck areas.
  • BeautySafe is supported by West Coast Beauty – they are providing a code for a $25 discount across all courses. Learn more here.

Tools and items requiring disinfection

  • Blowdryer casing
  • Bristle brushes
  • Brushes
  • Capes
  • Children’s booster seat
  • Clippers
  • Clips
  • Colour brushes, bottles, & bowls
  • Combs
  • Foiling boards
  • Hand mirrors
  • Highlighting caps & hooks
  • Irons
  • Makeup brushes & applicators
  • Neck & face brushes
  • Neck cushions
  • Neck drip trays
  • Rods & rollers
  • Scissors
  • Smocks/gowns
  • Spray bottles
  • Trays/trolleys

Single-use only (do not reuse)

  • Bobby pins
  • End papers
  • Foils (Kwikways, Magimeche, etc.)
  • Neck strips
  • Razor blades

Service, staffing, and management adjustments

  • Client cancellation fees waived
  • Remove head massage from shampoo services
  • Provide work from home options – for example, to order supplies, provide client support, or file paperwork. When it’s not an option, consider measures such as staggered shifts and virtual meetings as much as possible.
  • Staff or contractors allowed to stay home for 14 days without penalty if they report symptoms of COVID-19
  • Staff monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, sneezing, and coughing to leave the establishment and remain at home.
  • Staff may consume food in staff areas and use hand hygiene protocols before and after eating. Unfinished food must be stored in a way so it cannot be consumed by any other staff member. No food is to be shared by staff. Staff to bring their own cutlery and dishes.

Proposed next steps

To have Beauty Council develop and deliver

  • A consumer and industry facing education campaign
  • Standardized collateral and templates available by download
  • PPE product sourcing information

Where practical, to circulate the above materials and campaign to all operators through partnerships between Workplace BC, PHO, Beauty Council, beauty product distributors, and multi-location operations.

Translate protocols into a range of languages reflecting the multi-cultural nature of the beauty industry.

Further reduce the price of BeautySafe to allow more access by a wider range of PSWs.

To work with government representatives to collaborate on aligning heightened industry best practices with provincially mandated health and safety regulations around reopening.

Prepared by:

Greg Robins, Executive Director

on behalf of:

Beauty Council Western Canada, 203-8047 199 St, Langley City, BC V2Y 0E2

Appendix A

Links to research and analysis

Raw results from industry survey of 1,921 respondents on viability of returning to work.

Sentiment analysis of above survey’s qualitative responses