TORONTO -- This week, Torontonians are eager to settle back into the salon chair, while hair stylists are just as keen to start chopping.

On June 30, the longest pandemic closure out of any industry in Canada will come to a close as personal care services resume and Ontario enters Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan.

Carm Rizza, co-owner of Hair Dynamix and Salon G Rizza, is ready.

On November 22, Rizza and her team waited in front of the television in her salon, anticipating the storm on the horizon. That day, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Toronto and Peel were reverting back into lockdown.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Rizza said. “We were just devastated.”

She told her colleagues she’d see them in a few months. “Never would any of us have imagined seven months being closed down."

As hairdressers prepare for a backlog of customers, Rizza weighs in on what Torontonians need to know before their return to the salon or barber shop.

How to snag an appointment

When Ontario announced the province was bumping up its reopening, previously slated for July 2, to June 30, “Our phones were ringing. Our emails were crashing,” Rizza said.

To accommodate the long line-up of salon seekers, she had no choice but to pre-book customers on a first-come, first-serve basis.

At her salons, clients must call, email or book an appointment online through their website ahead of time.

Pandemic rules still in play 

Ontario’s roadmap to reopening states that the personal care sector can resume at 25 per cent capacity.

At Rizza’s salons, every other chair will be left vacant with barriers placed between each seat.

Customers are still required to wear face coverings, in accordance with public health guidelines, but staff won’t be taking clients' temperatures or asking who is vaccinated.

Where to begin with hair that’s grown wild?

For those who have opted to grow their hair to new lengths, rather than take a chance on an at-home hair cut, Rizza has a clear message: “The consultation starts right from the booking.”

Hair stylists need to know the duration of time they’ll need to tackle anything from a colour correction of three shades to the taming of hair that closely resembles Led Zeppelin.

There is no time for surprises. Instead, consult your hairdresser before you enter the building.

Changes to regular programming

Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening restricts any personal care service that requires a customer to take off their face mask.

At Rizza’s salons, they have spa services, which won’t be permitted to resume facials, but services such as pedicures, manicures and body waxing, will be back in business.

Practice patience

While arriving early for an appointment is usually a favourable quality in a customer, Rizza has been urging clients to arrive right on time. The days of lounging, reading a magazine and sipping a cappuccino in the waiting area are still on pause in order to comply with capacity limits.

As stylists and customers get accustomed to this new normal, “We just ask for patience,” Rizza said.

“I hope to god we’ll never have to close again.”