The next time you visit your local barber, be prepared to give your stylist your name, phone number or email.
Under provincial regulations that came into effect last July, barbers, hair salons, tattoos parlours and nail salons have to keep track of who visits their business and when, and record their contact information.
The rules are intended to allow public health departments to contact people who have been exposed to disease, said Dr. Rabia Bana, a McMaster University resident working with Niagara public health.
"This is a provincial government regulation that was enacted a year ago," said Bana, who noted only a client's name and email or phone has to be recorded.
I haven't had a stylist ask me for any info other than my first name and if they did, I'd probably just tell them to fuck off! Now that I know it's not their fault or a scam to market to me, I'll be happy to just lie to them. - Scott M
Under the regulation, that information can only be used by the public health department in the event of disease exposure. It cannot be used by the business for commercial or marketing purposes, she said.
Although the regulation has been around for a year, many people are only just finding out about it now, which has led to complaints filed with the public health department from business owners and their clients.
"I can say that this section of the regulation is among the most challenging we have had to deal with," said Chris Gaspar, manager of environmental health at the health department.
The health department has held four public training sessions to inform owners and clients of the new rules, and has even developed a client information registry to help owners collect the required information.
Bana said most owners already collect client contact information as a matter of course. Others are still learning how.
Stefan Ali, owner of Hourglass Barbershop on James Street in St. Catharines, said most of his clients book haircuts through his website and provide their name and contact information when they sign on.
"Most clients, though, limit how much information they share," he said. "They will include their name, phone or email, but that is about it."
He said his online clients don't have an issue with him keeping their information on file. It is those who walk in for a haircut who sometimes have a problem.
"That is when it can get a bit awkward," Ali said. "For years barbers haven't had to do that, right? So walk-ins are used to just coming in and getting a haircut and they get a little suspicious when you ask for that information, I guess because they think you might use it to sell them something."
Bana and Gaspar said walk-ins are generating the most complaints to the public health department.
Bana said she could not recall if the public health department had to find a client from a hair salon or barbershop who had been exposed to a disease.