Public health inspector shares details on nail salon enforcement

Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Health Unit in Kingston. Kingstonist file photo.

A local public health inspector is shedding some light on recent inspection and enforcement at nail salons in Kingston.

Gary Brasenell has been a public health inspector for Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health for four years. He says he has completed approximately 40 inspections at Personal Service Settings (PSS) in Kingston since Jun. 25, the day KFL&A Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a local nail salon.

Since that date, four nail salons have been required to temporary close, and four have received tickets for health code violations.

Public service settings include nail salons, hair salons, barbershops, tattoo and body piercing parlours. On Jun. 23, KFL&A Public Health issued a COVID-19 prevention checklist for all PSS in the area. It was updated Jun. 28 to reflect the region’s mandatory mask order. On Jun. 30, KFL&A Public Health requested all PSS complete and return the checklist.

“I think most [PSS] are taking COVID-19 precautions seriously,” Brasenell said. “All have made some attempt to put COVID-19 precautions in place.”

The checklist only needs to be completed once, Brasenell said, and the public can see which establishments have completed it online. Thirty-four nail and aesthetic service providers in the KFL&A region have submitted a checklist to date. That includes four of the eight salons that received recent tickets or enforcement for health code violations.

Brasenell said PSS are normally inspected once per year. Public Health is now working through a backlog of those routine inspections.

“Part of the reason there are so many happening right now is because they’ve been closed for a period of time, the bulk of the year, so we’re trying to catch up,” Brasenell said.

Infractions noted since Thursday, Jun. 25 include failure to properly sterilize reusable equipment, and failure to record customer contact information.

Brasenell said that a single instance of an infraction does not warrant a ticket. “It’s actually a procedural issue,” he said. “They’re not following cleaning and disinfection correctly, as a procedural problem.”

He said Public Health’s first action in the case of an infraction is education, and an attempt to bring the establishment in line with regulations.

“For those that we have ticketed, we only ticket on repeat offences, if it’s something that has been an issue in the past,” he said. “That’s not something that’s changed, that’s something we’ve always done. Just because of the [outbreak], it’s more in the media spotlight.”

Brasenell says Public Health inspectors also look at whether COVID-19 precautions are being followed when they go on site for their routine inspections.

“It covers things like: they have masks, the customers are masking, there’s physical distancing, hand sanitizer is available,” he says.

By and large, Brasenell says many PSS are passing their inspections.

“You can look [on the KFL&A Public Health website] to see the others that we have inspected. You can certainly find other inspection reports where there’s no concern. There are plenty that are complying,” he says.

“I would say that it would take conscious effort to make sure they’re doing a good job, but there are plenty that are doing it,” he says.

“The ones that aren’t we are hoping that they’ll come into compliance and treat this as ‘learning a lesson.'”

“I think everyone in the community is doing a great job overall, we continue to see compliance and that people are taking the situation seriously,” he said.

Note: KFL&A Public Health’s checklist was updated again on Friday, Jul. 17. As part of Phase 3 of the province’s Framework for Reopening Our Province, facial services are now once again permitted in PSS.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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