The owner of an Alberta barbershop has reopened again on Wednesday — with messages of support — just a day after being slapped with a verbal order by Alberta Health Services.
Natalie Klein, the owner of Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop in Innisfail, told CBC News on Wednesday that small businesses have been "unfairly targeted" and that personal services should be open.
Now, one day after reopening her salon and being issued a government order, Klein says she's getting "so much" support from locals and people across the province who feel the same as she does.
That includes "hundreds" of emails, some from people wanting to donate to help pay for fines she could be subject to, she said. Others are words of encouragement.
"There's a lot of people commending my stand," Klein said.
"[I'm] just trying to make a living and I just want all small businesses to do the same."
Despite that, Alberta RCMP confirmed to CBC News that officers issued two tickets to the business on Wednesday for failing to comply with public health orders.
Previously on Wednesday, her barbershop was seen with customers filling up inside and more lining up outside.
She said each was there by appointment only and that the salon is following COVID-19 health measures, including wearing masks and sanitizing hands upon entering.
She said those dropping by to offer support could make appointments for later times when she had available spots.
Klein's salon is open despite public health measures put in place by the Alberta government in December. These include the closures of personal services like hair salons. That measure was extended on Monday and is set to last until Jan. 21 in an attempt to avoid a post-holiday surge of cases.
The province set a new single-day record of 38 new deaths caused by COVID-19 on Tuesday, with a total of 1,345. Alberta also reported 652 new cases out of 13,220 tests on Tuesday, up from 639 new cases the day before. The positivity rate was 6.8 per cent.
On Tuesday, the first day Klein reopened her salon, she was issued a verbal order from Alberta Health Services, just hours after appearing on CBC's Calgary Eyeopener.
AHS confirmed that Bladez 2 Fadez had been issued an order to close and said failure to comply with a closure order could result in fines up to $5,000 per day.
She posted a video, which shows an officer from AHS taping a notice to the door of the salon, on her business Facebook page. The AHS officer was accompanied by an RCMP officer, who remained outside.
Others operating 'under the radar'
Klein says she knows the toll the effects of the pandemic can take on people's mental health, having known a person who recently took their own life.
"They don't talk about that," Klein said. Her seven-year-old son is also struggling with his mental health, Klein said, describing him as being "severely depressed."
Klein added that she also understands the plights of those who are struggling financially due to the effects of COVID restrictions on businesses.
"As a parent, you need to provide for your children and put food on the table.… It was a hard Christmas," Klein said. "It shouldn't have to be this way … to watch your business fail."
Klein says she knows of other businesses that are operating "under the radar."
"We shouldn't have to have an underground business … it's not proper," she said.
"There's a lot of really scared business owners, they don't want the fines, and I understand that. But when you've lost everything, what's the difference?"
In Calgary, a few businesses have been caught operating despite COVID-19 measures and were ordered to close earlier this month, including a hair salon in Crowfoot and an eyelash extension service in Panorama Hills.
As for potential fines, Klein says it's just another expense she'll incur. She said Tuesday she would fight any fine she is issued in court.
"At the end of the day, it's just going to pile up, just like my bills," Klein said. "It shouldn't have to be a choice between illegal and survival at this point."