Worker at 2nd nail salon tests positive as Kingston COVID-19 cases keep rising

An employee at a second nail salon in Kingston, Ont., has tested positive for COVID-19 as the number of cases in the eastern Ontario city continues to climb.

Kingdom Nails & Spa says it's working with local health officials and takes the matter "very seriously."

"Although we have passed all regulations and did not violate [any] safety measures, we feel that it is our responsibility to ensure that this will not happen again," the company's Facebook post reads.

"We will be closed until the public health department says that we can open."

According to the business, the employee tested positive for the virus Saturday.

The business said it was "saddened and concerned" for its employee and apologized to its customers for the inconvenience.

"We are very sorry that this has happened and hope no one has been affected by this," Kingdom Nails & Spa wrote. "We appreciate all of our customers and would not exist without your ongoing support."

22 confirmed cases as of Sunday

Last week, public health officials in Kingston warned of an outbreak of COVID-19 at another salon, Binh's Nail and Spa, and asked anyone who'd been there since it reopened June 12 to get tested and self-isolate.

From Monday to Saturday, more than 2,400 people were tested for the virus in Kingston, said Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health.

The health unit said Friday that 16 people had tested positive for COVID-19 after working at, visiting or coming into contact with someone who was at the salon.

That number rose Sunday to 22, with health officials saying the spread of the virus is under investigation.

Moore said Sunday the newly infected salon worker is a close contact of an employee at Binh's Nail and Spa.

KFL&A Public Health/YouTube
KFL&A Public Health/YouTube

Moore had said Binh's Nail and Spa hadn't obeyed two-metre physical distancing rules or cleaned properly between sessions. Workers had been wearing masks, but not all customers.

Kingdom Nails & Spa, however, was following health and safety protocols, and Moore said the risk of their clients and employees contacting the virus was "very, very low."

The health unit, with the help of city bylaw officers, is now "aggressively inspecting" nail salons to ensure they follow the rules, Moore said.

They would also likely be expanding inspections, he added, as there have been reports of other personal service businesses like hair salons and barbershops where employees haven't been wearing masks.

"This is a real awakening for our community," Moore said. "The best practices are there. In our opinion, they weren't adhered to, and we can learn from this and better protect our community, protect our economy, and limit the spread of this virus."

Mayors considering making masks mandatory

After the outbreak, the health unit issued an order Friday declaring mask usage mandatory for almost all residents inside the vast majority of public spaces.

The mayors of two nearby communities say they're now considering following suit.

"My reaction has been one of alarm, because obviously we now have to figure out what this means for our community. But also, I have a personal reaction as a person who enjoys a manicure and who was looking forward to getting back to that," said Bernadette Clement, mayor of Cornwall, Ont.

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Clement said she's been hearing positive things about the steps Cornwall nail salons are taking to protect employees and clients.

She said the city and the regional health unit would be having a discussion this week about the possibility of making masks mandatory.

"I do notice that that is an uneven practice in our area. Many people do, but many people don't. And I think it would be interesting to start that kind of conversation," Clement said.

Similarly, Prescott, Ont., Mayor Brett Todd said his town was carefully monitoring the situation and may consider making masks mandatory if there is a second wave.

Both communities have had a relatively low number of cases of COVID-19.