As more and more Ontarians become fully immunized against COVID-19, those who have chosen not to get the shot (for political reasons, at least) are starting to stick out among the crowd — mostly because of the anti-vaxxer rhetoric they spout every time the topic comes up.
Social situations are getting awkward in some cases as people emerge from lockdown and begin to navigate a “new normal” where some 19 per cent of adults in the province haven’t been vaccinated despite the widespread availability of shots to everyone in Canada.
While there are folks who face legitimate barriers to getting the vaccine, there are also many people who proudly refuse to be innoculated for a host of reasons, including some pretty bonkers conspiracy theories.
A recent Angus Reid poll found that some 55 per cent of vaccinated Canadians think it’s “totally fine” to ask others about whether or not they’ve had the jab, while only five per cent of unvaccinated folks feel the same.
Meanwhile, policies about who can enter certain businesses based on their vaccination status are kicking up controversy all over Toronto. People are getting into brutal spats online (and one would presume elsewhere) over the issue, similar to what happens with other hot-button issues that you simply “don’t talk about at the dinner table.”
An Etobicoke hair salon is trying to head off any of this drama before it can start with a novel strategy: Asking customers to refrain from talking about vaccines at all during their appointments
“We would kindly like to mention that all conversations regarding VACCINATIONS will be not be permitted within the realm of One Salon,” reads an email blast sent to clients of the business late last week.
“We trust and respect your decision to do what is best for your health, but also respect the privacy of all patrons and staff alike. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.”
When asked for clarification, salon management told blogTO that they don’t have an official policy in place, but that they are “asking clients to refrain from the topic as it is highly sensitive to some and we want to avoid any conflict within the salon environment.”
“We just want our clients to come and get their hair done and feel happy,” said a representative for One Salon, noting that the only goal is to “keep unity, love and peace” as their focus.
Plus, it’s not like the idea was implemented without reason.
“After opening for a couple of weeks there were some conflicts that came about with regards to this topic,” said the business, which specializes in organic, natural, vegan and eco-friendly haircare.
“As our salon is an open concept space, it is virtually impossible to keep conversations private.”
While they do follow all COVID-19 public health protocols as mandated by the government, the salon’s managemers say they “do not want to discriminate or segregate based on anyone’s health history.”
They simply want everyone to feel comfortable in an inclusive space — and it’s working.
“Since the email went out, we have had a very pleasant and positive environment in the salon space and it feels great,” the salon told blogTO.
“We have had a tremendous amount of support with regards to the email sent out. Of course, there were a few clients who were not thrilled about it, and I did reach out to them personally to explain that our intensions were good and non-judgemental.”
One client did reach out by email to blogTO complaining that she felt the no-vaccine talk rule was tantamount to censorship, but One Salon says this is not at all the case.
“We tend to limit topics of religion or politics in social settings where we are unsure whether the conversation is welcome. I feel this topic falls under the same parameters,” said salon management.
“It’s really just about being considerate of others and not prying too much into people’s privacy.”