With B.C. now a few days into Phase Two of the Provincial Restart Plan, Prince George businesses are beginning to find a new normal of their own.

Photo: Jean Martindale/Charlie’s Girl

Tommy Gun’s Barber Shop and Charlie’s Girl are two local haircutters in Pine Centre that have once again opened up shop after hair salons and barbers were forced to close in March.

Both businesses attribute their quick recovery to meticulous planning throughout the mandated closure.

“Day one was crazy busy, and hectic, and tiring, and everything all at once,” said Charlie’s Girl Owner Jean Martindale.

Many of her staff also noticed their stamina has decreased following the time off.

“We were all definitely very tired at the end of the day,” she laughed.

“We had a lot of anticipation with wanting to get back to work and a little apprehension on how the new protocols were going to go.”

The salon requires both staff and clients to wear masks, and stylists also have the option to wear face shields.

Hand sanitizer is also readily available at the front counter, walk-in appointments are no longer allowed, and health screening questions are asked before anyone sits down in the chair.

The retail area is also blocked off to customers.

“Full props to healthcare workers who have to wear masks all the time while they work. It’s a hard thing to do,” said Martindale.

Due to stricter cleaning protocols, a haircut that would normally take 15 to 20 minutes now takes closer to 45 to an hour, she estimates.

“Clients were absolutely lovely, they were very appreciative of the chance to get in and get their hair cut.”

Martindale says she spent the two-month hiatus brainstorming how to return to full function.

“I didn’t see it as a holiday. I was following the news, I was following the guidelines, and when Manitoba and Saskatchewan announced they were coming back and put out protocols, I was following that,” she said.

“We didn’t find out for sure that we would be coming back until Friday (May 15) at 6:30.”

Watching other provinces and their regulations allowed Martindale to anticipate the materials she would need.

Martindale put in orders for face shields and masks right away and had a plexiglass barrier for reception delivered three weeks ago.

“There were definitely a lot of male clients needing to get their hair cut! Ladies too, but the men came in looking like it’s definitely been two and a half months since they last got their haircut!”

Meanwhile, Tommy Gun’s also had a similar plan of attack for opening day.

“We have put in place all of our safety procedures, we have had a really good team who got everything set up so we could open in a timely manner,” said Manager Jennifer Brine.

For them, day one of operation went smoothly, but they saw an influx of clients.

“It wasn’t too bad, we had a couple of bumps in the road but not so much on the barbershop side. Our internet went down, things like that,” explained Brine.

The store was open 11:00 am-5:oo pm on Tuesday, but they were fully booked by 2:o0.

Only four barbers work at any given time, working out to half of their staff.

All clients and staff are required to wear masks, and barbers wear face shields when cutting hair.

Similar to Charlie’s Girl, hand sanitizer is also available at reception and each station is wiped and sanitized in between clients.

Walk-in clients are also not accepted.

“We had to put a pause on our hot shaves or anything to do with the face for now, just because of wearing the mask, so we can’t do that service. But the experience in the chair is very much the same,” explains Brine.

In addition, customers are asked if they have been out of the province in the last two weeks, if they have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 symptoms or if they been ill themselves.

Photo: Jean Martindale/Charlie’s Girl