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After the NWT began the first phase of the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely Covid-19 recovery plan on Friday, a handful of businesses have been slowly reopening. 

In line with phase one rules, some companies offering personal services like beauty salons, barber shops and gyms have begun operations over the past few days. 

The Stanley Boxing and Fitness gym opened its first outdoor fitness classes on Monday for a group of 15 students. 

“It was snowing and everyone was smiling at the end of it. We’re happy to be around each other and motivating each other (again),” said Scott Thomson, personal trainer and gym co-owner. 

Participants in the new outdoor fitness class by Stanley Boxing gym pose after their 45-minute workout on Tuesday in Olexin Park.
Blair McBride/NNSL photo

The 45-minute classes run twice a day from Monday to Friday, and once on Saturdays. 

But these aren’t typical fitness classes and their opening is subject to a slew of health measures. 

Stanley Boxing, like all businesses seeking to open, must comply with Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) risk assessments and the Covid-19 field level risk assessment for workers.

Social distancing is maintained at all times and participants “must stay one barbell length (six feet) apart as much as possible,” Thomson said. 

“We’ve asked our members to not arrive more than five minutes early or stay after class, and to please not show up late.” 

Students must sign up in advance for classes, which are capped at 20 participants. No equipment — such as kettlebells and dumbbells — is shared and students must bring their own. 

If anyone has traveled outside of the NWT in the last two weeks — or a member of their household — they’re urged not to attend class. They should also stay home if they or anyone in their family is sick. 

Jeff Round, left, and Dan Round do their workout in Stanley Boxing Gym’s outdoor fitness class.
Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“We are starting off slowly because we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew and our top priority at this time is to keep everyone safe,” Thomson said. 

The gym’s remote video and Facebook classes are ongoing for students who choose not to join the outdoor sessions, and coach John Stanley’s boxing classes take place on Zoom on Thursdays in partnership with the Aboriginal Sport Circle. 

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Heavily sanitized barber, beauty shops

Rogel’s Barber Shop, in the Centre Square Mall, opened its doors for business on Saturday and customer traffic has been “non-stop,” according to owner Rogelio Pineda. 

“We’re booked up (completely)” he said just as a customer sat down for a haircut. 

Pineda said he finds the new workplace regulations of the WSCC and the GNWT fairly strict, and he’s constantly washing his hands, wiping down the stations and chairs and sanitizing things. 

Staff at New Dimensions Hair Salon reopened its doors to customers on Thursday afternoon.

“I need to be able to work. I was given two months off but it wasn’t a holiday. It’s exciting to be able to go back to my normal-ish routine,” said co-owner Michelle Fortin. 

The routine won’t be quite like it was before the pandemic hit. Fortin believes customer numbers will be down by about one-third or more compared to mid-March. 

Readying to open was a job in itself, she explained. 

“It’s a fair bit of work because we need to sanitize the whole salon top to bottom,” she said. “We need to make sure there are hand sanitizer stations throughout the salon. We’re hanging dividers between the sinks. Even just calling back the clients whose appointments we had to cancel — they’ll be getting called first.

Michelle Fortin, co-owner of New Dimensions Hair Salon, poses inside her shop on Thursday.
Blair McBride/NNSL photo

The work pace will be a little slower than usual, with the salon setting aside time between appointments to sanitize the chairs clients sit in and sinks where they had their hair washed. 

“The volume (of customers) will be less but it seems there’ll be more work,” said Fortin. 

Even though the salon was built to accommodate four staff members, only two will be working so they can keep enough distance between each other. 

Everyone in the salon will wear face masks, and disposable or cloth masks will be provided for clients who don’t have one. 

When working with clients who might have health issues, such as elderly people, staff will wear face visors. 

“I’m excited to see our clients again,” Fortin said. “Being here in the NWT, I feel pretty safe knowing how low the cases have been here. As long as we keep the borders locked down it should be fairly safe. Only time will tell if there’s a second wave.”

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Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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