A barbershop reopens during the lockdown as a film production studio

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A representative for the Niagara Region says an investigation has started into a St. Catharines, Ont., barbershop that reopened during the COVID-19 lockdown as a film production studio.

Chrome Artistic Barbering recently started booking "auditions" at its barbershop for a series called "A Bit Off the Top," telling clients they would receive a haircut "while candidly discussing life" in front of rolling cameras.

Owner Alicia Hirter says the footage may be used in a future podcast or documentary series.

But it's raised questions about whether her business was merely looking for loopholes that qualify it as a TV or film production, which are allowed to keep operating under Ontario rules.

Niagara Region spokesperson Andrew Korchok says leaders are working with St. Catharines officials "to enforce the Provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the Reopening Ontario Act in a consistent and fair manner."

Hirter says she pivoted her barbershop's business model after growing frustrated with the second Ontario lockdown, which deemed film productions and some big-box retailers essential while largely shutting out small business.

"I'm about to lose my cottage, I'm going to lose my house. I mean, what can I do?" she told The Canadian Press in an interview.

"I've got a clean public health record for the last 18 years straight. So, for us to operate the way that we are, I didn't see how it could be any different than a movie set or a news conference."

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