An Edmonton Police Services logo is shown at a news conference in Edmonton on Octr 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

An Edmonton Police Services logo is shown at a news conference in Edmonton on Octr 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

‘We did it out of desperation’: Edmonton salon owner apologizes for renting space to partiers amid pandemic

Police broke up a party of around 125 people Sunday at Khrome Beauty Lounge

An Edmonton business owner is apologizing for renting out her nail salon for a large weekend party despite COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Police said they broke up a large gathering of at least 125 people who were partying with large amounts of alcohol and a DJ at the Khrome Beauty Lounge early Sunday.

Alberta public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 ban all indoor social gatherings.

Farida Hussaini, co-owner of the southeast salon, which is also licensed to sell cocktail drinks, said it was rented to a group of 15 people who wanted to celebrate a birthday.

She said the business opened about six months ago and has been struggling.

“I know that we’re not the only small business suffering. There’s a lot of small businesses suffering,” Hussaini said Tuesday.

“But what provoked us to do this is the fact that it’s just been a tough year on us financially. It has been really hard. We did it out of desperation and we apologize.”

Police said they are working with Alberta Health Services and the City of Edmonton to decide the next steps in the investigation. Health and city officials did not say Tuesday whether the salon would be fined.

Hussaini declined to say who she rented the salon to and at what price. But she did say it wasn’t the first time during the pandemic that it’s been used for a gathering.

The weekend before, she said, the salon was rented to another 15 people for a party.

“Everybody was wearing masks, social distancing was in place, everything was OK,” Hussaini said.

Hussaini said her business partner has blamed the gathering on her, and they are now in a legal dispute.

“We haven’t been getting along lately. It has been hard. We’re at a point where we don’t know how we’re going to survive, how we’re going to pay our rent.”

She also said the salon and its employees have been receiving a flood of hateful messages, including death threats since news broke about the weekend party.

“Two of them were death threats telling us to die and that they’re going to come and find us and kill us. The publicity from this has been so bad and it has just tarnished our image,” Hussaini said.

“Google reviews have been skyrocketing with just one star from people. I do get it, I know we’ve upset a lot of people, but I hope people understand that we were struggling and I think we became selfish.”

Coronavirus