After more than 40 years in the hairstyling industry, Trish Molloy, owner of the Headroom hair salons in St. John's and Paradise, cannot recall more upheaval in her industry than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salons were forced to close for four months during lockdowns, but since the implementation of the vaccine passport, Molloy said, her industry has taken another, even more serious hit.
"I can get an appointment without being vaccinated," said Molloy.
Molloy says some of her unvaccinated clients — ones she has turned away — are taking their business to stylists who serve unvaccinated clients, a practice that is not permitted under the provincial vaccine policy, said Molloy.
"I know they've gone somewhere else," said Molloy. "I'm in communication with these clients. I've had them for up to 40 years, some of them."
As of Oct. 22, the provincial government requires people to be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical exemption to enter hair salons.
Molloy said she has modified both of her businesses to follow physical distancing guidelines, installed new computers to implement the vaccine passport, and follows all the rules set out by the provincial government in order to keep her salons operating.
But Molloy said she is taking an additional hit from stylists who are not playing by the same rules.
"We've lost more than 80 clients since the NLVaxPass was implemented," said Molloy.
Call for enforcement
Now Molloy and three other salon owners are speaking out and calling on the provincial government to enforce its own regulations on stylists who flout the regulations.
"I think they have to be called to task. If there is a fine then these stylists have to be fined," said Molloy.
Paula Adam, the owner of Signature Salon, and Brenda Chaytor, owner of Hair Connection, agree with Molloy..
Both say they are losing clients who are not vaccinated to stylists who don't require proof of vaccination.
"We follow rules and we make sure we put them in place the way the government has asked," said Adam.
"I understand there is a fine.… Who's implementing this?"
The fact that some stylists can ignore the regulations and serve unvaccinated clientele amounts to a cut in pay for her staff, said Chaytor.
All three salon owners said they have to keep their businesses open longer every day to make sure all their stylists get their shifts in because physical distancing requirements mean fewer work stations and fewer clients at a time.
"One of the things that's really setting us back right now is that this is our busiest time of year … where stylists will work those extra few hours. You make hay while the sun shines," said Chaytor.
Chaytor said that they have been unable to bring on new staff who need hands-on training to gain experience, so their business cannot grow and attract new clientele.
"We don't only cut hair, we grow people for a living," said Chaytor.
"There's … stylists that I know that are going to people's homes and having them come to their homes, and doing it after work," said Molloy. "We're in a situation now where the industry has to move ahead because it's stagnated."
She said the government needs to put measures in place to protect them and their employees.
CBC News requested an interview with the provincial government.
But Service N.L. responded instead with a short statement that said environmental health officers will follow up on a complaint that has been filed, and will possibly get police involved.