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Ottawa salons, restaurants gear up for province's phase two of reopening

Just because business are allowed to be open as of Friday, it doesn't mean they will be. A lack of clarity on rules is making it delaying the opening of some salons, while some restaurants without patios scurry to build one.
File photo.

Local business owners are gearing up to reopen to the public as part of phase two of the Ontario government's recovery plan.

Among those deep in preparations are salon owners Sarah Cross of Salon Bliss and Vince Porco of New York New York Hair Salon and Sam Saikali, owner of Al’s Steakhouse. 

As of Friday, hair salons and restaurants (with patios) are allowed to reopen to the public, but with some rules and restrictions.

But those rules aren’t clear and remain much of a mystery, Porco says. 

“It’s exciting but stressful,” he said. “Stressful because no rules are set 100 per cent. They didn’t tell us how many people are allowed in the business. We want full guidelines so we’re ready to go… We want to make sure we’re reopening with the right protocols.”

And Porco doesn’t anticipate regular appointments — fearing clients have tried new styles or colouring with their hair during isolation. And that could slow down the process as stylists figure out how to repair and fix hairy mistakes.

“We’re still going to be busy but we’re not going to be doing the numbers that we normally do,” Porco said.

For Cross, the news of being able to reopen sent her into a state of shock.

“There was so much conversation (for the reopening to) being middle to end of summer, so I have been preparing for that just in case,” she said. “So when they announced Friday but didn’t announce what the protocols are — and they still haven’t — I went into hyper drive, thinking ‘Ok I have to be open Friday.’ And then I realized I have to do this at whatever pace myself and my team need to and people will understand we need to take our time.”

Because of the state of uncertainty, Cross says her salon will not be open Friday — and won’t be until she is certain of what she is and isn't allowed to do.

Despite the delay, Cross says she already has a waiting list of 300 people. 

“We’re opening with four stylists,” Cross said. “I’ve rearranged the entire salon so chairs are the proper distance from one another. We’re excited. We just want to make sure that we can come back with a lot of energy and excitement.”

The news was just as sudden for Saikali. 

“It’s welcomed news,” Saikali said. “We’re one of the restaurants that didn’t have an existing patio so we’ve been working on this for the last few weeks because we heard rumours that the city would be more lenient to either help establishments increase their patio size, or those without a patio there would be less restrictions and would be allowing those without a patio to open up a patio if they had a parking lot or a larger space area. So we, over the last few weeks, have been working hard to put up a pop-up patio.”

That patio will be taking up a portion of the back parking lot facing Minto Park. However, that space will hopefully move to Elgin Street once construction on the street is done, Saikali says.

Saikali is hoping Al's Steakhouse will be open and ready for business come Friday.

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