INNISFAIL, ALTA. — An Innisfail, Alta. barbershop, co-owned by the niece of late Premier Ralph Klein, opened for business Tuesday defying the provincial COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that were extended last week.
Natalie Klein and husband Yanik Brazeau, co-owners of Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop, say they followed the province’s original 28-day COVID-19-related order issued Dec. 8, but refused to heed the two-week extended closure.
The couple posted their intention on the company’s’ Facebook page on Jan.7.
“After much research and looking at covid-19 cases in Innisfail, we have decided to open for business on January 12,” read the post. “After abiding by all mandatory rules set in place , and applying for the promised government grants, we received nothing !!”
The owners added “Our lives have been severely impacted by a closure of personal services, and yet there was not one documented case in our industry. Our government has failed yet again.”
Klein says the out-of-country Christmas travel by some UCP MLAs was a tipping point in her decision to defy the health order.
“In light of the last 4 weeks of political so called role models defying restrictions and still suffering no financial loss as so many of the personal small business industry had to endure, we will open.!” said Klein on Facebook. “I consider this a mandatory mental health service.”
The pair is getting support from a former Innisfail town councillor who is running for the mayor’s seat in this year’s election.
Glen Carritt resigned his seat on council Monday after a testy council meeting. Other council members have chastised him for supporting the barbershop’s plan to violate the public health order.
Carritt organized a rally in support of the business.
“Nobody has been hurt harder then our small businesses. If they can follow proper precautions then we should support them being open!” wrote Carritt on his Facebook page touting his run for mayor.”I am standing behind the decision made by Bladez To Fadez Barbershop to open their small business. They have done their research and feel there is no valid reason why they should not be able to open.”
Carritt says he has written a letter to Premier Jason Kenney demanding a reversal of the two-week extension of pandemic-related restrictions for small businesses.
Klein and Brazeau opened their barbershop last year in August. They say attempts to access small business grants, and pandemic relief funds, have been unsuccessful. They claim the extended closure will drive them out of business.
Both owners say they are willing to face the legal consequences of breaking the provincial health order.
Anyone violating a public health order in Alberta may be subject to a $1,000 fine. Additionally, they can be prosecuted for up to $100,000 for a first offense.