A Tale of Two Sides of Road: Why Salons and Patios Are Open Only on One Side of Steeles Avenue

imageDozens of nail and hair salons line Steeles Avenue in Toronto’s north end, but while the shops on one side of the street were bustling with weekend customers on Saturday, businesses on the other were locked up with their lights out.

The busy road serves as a border between the City of Toronto and York Region, and while the latter is in the second stage of re-opening, the former has a higher concentration of COVID-19 cases and remains in Stage 1, so many services are still shuttered.

For Toronto residents near the border, accessing some services is now a matter of crossing the street.

At nolaSalon in Vaughan, Ont., Sofia Romashova said there were some walk-ins from Toronto when they first opened on Friday, although they’re now booked up for the next three weeks.

Some of the customers are coming from as far as downtown Toronto and Mississauga, Ont.

“We’re booked from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m.,” said Romashova, adding that their salon is only accepting three clients at a time to ensure that they can maintain physical distancing between customers.

The salon wasn’t allowing customers to sit on sofas inside, and went through an intensive cleaning process after each client.

Michelle Clark, a customer who was getting her hair cut on Saturday afternoon, said she was from Toronto but within a walking distance from the salon.

“I’m lucky I live where I live,” she said.

“I didn’t see what the point was in opening York Region and not Toronto, but I guess it’s more for people in downtown.”

Farther along Steeles, patrons were enjoying coffee and pitchers of beer on a patio at the Tickled Toad Pub & Grill, where the second stage of reopening has allowed restuarants and bars to serve customers at outdoor seating areas.

The pub first opened the patio on Friday, and owner Paul Merrimel said there was an immediate rush from when they opened at noon until close.

“It was a crazy day,” said Merrimel, adding they had to tape off a section of the walkway to account for the long line that formed.

“Everyone was happy to get some sort of normalcy happening, the mood was fantastic.”

Merrimel said they have many regulars who live just across the street in Toronto, who have been coming to support the bar.

While he said they’re fortunate to be able to open up before venues on the south end of the street, their business is still severely limited. The pub is licensed for around 200 people, but is currently only serving 36 at a time.

In the past, Merrimel said being in Vaughan had been a disadvantage when bars in Toronto were allowed to extend hours for sporting events and his wasn’t.

“This time we’re sort of ahead and we got a jump on things, which is nice,” he said.

“We’re obviously on the right side of the street.”


© The Canadian Press

Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

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