A hair salon in Langford will close for a few days after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Chatters Hair Salon, located in the Westshore Town Centre, has announced it will close its doors until Aug. 24, after a stylist tested positive for COVID-19. The salon said the closure wasn’t required by the province but is being done as part of their “social responsibility.”
“As a response to the positive COVID-19 case at our location, we have made the decision as part of our social responsibility to close until Monday,” Chatters Salon Victoria Westshore said in a post on Facebook. “This closure is not [provincial] requirement but will give us the opportunity to once again do another thorough disinfection.”
The salon announced yesterday on its Facebook page that one of their employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and has not worked since Aug. 17.
“We posted it pretty much as soon as we could,” said Darren Morris, manager of the salon. “We had to just get all of our facts together [first] to make sure we posted what was relevant.”
Morris said he learned about the positive COVID-19 test on the afternoon of Aug. 21 and immediately contacted all employees as well as HealthLink BC, better known as 811. He said the employee worked Aug. 14, 15, and 17 and that health officials have reached out to customers who were potentially exposed.
He said the stylist was not on Vancouver Island when they were exposed to the virus and was notified by health officials to get tested through contact tracing.
“811 informed us that there was a very low risk of transmission and that it was not necessary for us to close. So we made all the necessary arrangements based on what they had told us,” Morris said. “They then asked us for a list of the clients that may have been at risk and [said] that it was their job to contact them.”
The salon has answered inquiries from clients if their appointment had been with the stylist who tested positive, he said. However, the salon isn’t reaching out to the affected clients directly, as per advice from health officials.
“Because of 811’s request that they be left to contact people, we have left it to  to answer those questions,” Morris explained.
Morris also said B.C. health officials have advised there is “very low risk to exposure” due to the salon’s personal protective equipment (PPE) policies.
Island Health has not listed the salon as a public COVID-19 exposure event on its website.
“If you have visited a location that has made an exposure public, and Island Health has not issued a public notification, it is likely because we have completed our contact tracing and have determined that no increased risk to others exists,” Island Health told CHEK News in a statement.
“Contact tracing from Island Health’s Public Health team ensures anyone with a potentially close contact exposure to a confirmed case is followed up with. A close contact exposure means face-to-face contact while a person is infectious for an extended period of time.”
Katey Cockburn, who has visited the salon in the past three weeks, said the lack of communication from Island Health is baffling.
“Even if I haven’t come in contact directly with the [person] who tested positive, I believe that it is our right to know and I think that everybody should be aware of the potential risk that’s out there,” she said.
All employees are required to wear masks at the salon, while guests are required to sanitize and wear masks, according to Morris, who also said they sanitize and disinfect the areas where customers have been after a single-use. At the end of the day, they do a full clean and disinfection of the salon.
These precautions help minimize the risk of transmission, said infectious disease modeller and mathematician Caroline Colijn, but the risk is still there.
“Imagine you’re in a room and there’s a screen with holes in it and there’s mosquitoes outside,” she explained. “Sure, it slows the mosquitoes coming in, but if you spend five hours in the room, a mosquito might come in even though the screen is doing pretty well.”
This is what happens when there is community transmission, Colijn said, meaning cases can show up anywhere we are having contact.
“Although every interaction at a salon is probably low risk, if you have lots and lots . . . of low-risk things, eventually you have the event,” she said, which in this situation is a positive COVID-19 case.
However, that doesn’t mean people need to panic about every hair salon in the province, Colijn said, adding that it is responsible of business owners to tell people when there is a case.
“It means they’re being up front about it, they’re watching for it, they’re finding it,” she said. “So, I think we should appreciate that.”
As a response to the positive Covid 19 case at our location.
We have made the decision as part of our…