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Some SWFL businesses adding ‘COVID fee’ during reopening phases of pandemic

One way some businesses nationwide are trying to make ends meet is by adding something called a “COVID fee.”

Vogue Hair Studio in Cape Coral is among the local businesses following this trend and sent an email out, alerting clients to a new, added surcharge.

But the new $5 charge isn’t sitting well with client Linda Thompson.

“I think passing on the cost like that is unwarranted and not necessary. It’s a part of doing business,” Thompson said.

Thompson told her stylist that she wouldn’t pay the extra charge.

“I really think that in times like this — and I know we’re in a different time; we haven’t really been through something like this — you shouldn’t impose extra cost on people,” Thompson said.

Vogue Hair Studio said in a statement:

“As for our temporary $5 COVID-19 Service Charge, it is way more than a “extra sanitation fee” as you are calling it. We are required to purchase items (masks, gloves, disinfectants) that are currently subject to price gouging, they are hard to come by, and we are using these items at a much faster rate than ever due to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations’ added protocol. Our service charge also serves to help us to afford to open our doors every day to our clients at 50% occupancy due to social distancing measures that are in place. Each stylist is also not allowed to take more than one client at a time which also cuts deep into our productivity. Opening under hazardous conditions takes a toll mentally, physically, and financially and for my business it is a necessary evil to be able to provide the level of safety that ourselves and our clients deserve. 99.9% of our 5000+ client base of over 22 years has been very receptive and supportive of our temporary service charge and many of them believe $5 is a very small cost when they see our level of commitment to keep us all safe.”

Thompson said Vogue Hair Studio won’t lose her business, but that she will not pay the fee.

“I’ll go back because I love my stylist in the salon,” Thompson said. “I’m not too thrilled about because I think they could’ve handled it in a much different way.”

Others say their salons are charging “COVID fees” too, ranging from $3 up to $10.

And the salon industry isn’t alone.

At Tarpon Shores Dental in Englewood, the COVID fee is $15. The office told us over the phone the charge will help pay for personal protective equipment and other safety upgrades.

Right now, WINK is only hearing about a handful of local businesses adding this “COVID fee.” Pay close attention to your receipts and call ahead of time if this is a cost you’re worried about.

MORE: Florida DBPR guidelines for barbershops, cosmetology shops and cosmetology specialty salons 

Reporter:Allison Gormly
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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