BY KATHLEEN BOLUS
Along with a cape to shield clothing from falling hair, customers now have to wear a mask while getting their hair snipped, dyed and dried when salons in Lackawanna County begin reopening Friday.
Under the green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan, local salons and barbershops can welcome back customers for salon services this weekend. Salons throughout the county, which have been closed since March to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, said phones have been ringing off the hook since the announcement last week.
Salons are adapting guidelines and protocols from the State Board of Cosmetology, including disinfecting chairs, stations and basins between each client and asking customers to fill out a COVID-19 document that asks if they’ve been out of the country in the past 14 days or knowingly been exposed to the virus. They are also checking temperatures and giving customers the option to wait outside or in cars for their appointments.
Lauren Woodard, co-owner of Lavish Hair Salon on Linden Street in Scranton, said she began putting her own plans in place about a month ago.
They installed clear plastic barriers between washbowls, in between areas in their processing lounge and to separate pedicure chairs and the manicure technician from the client. They added bistro tables outside the salon where clients can wait while their hair color processes or for appointments.
Additional support staff will help sanitize the salon between clients, she said.
Because Lavish already operates at below 50% capacity, Woodard said they did not have to limit appointments and the length of time many clients have now gone between appointments helps.
“Everyone’s hair is going to require extra time,” she said. “You’re naturally going to spread them out.”
Stylists have to wear glasses when they’re shampooing clients hair and masks when they’re blow drying.
“We’re trying to make things as smooth on our stylists as well as on our clients,” she said.
Even in the green phase of reopening, salons are not allowed to offer any procedures where a client must remove their mask.
Eyebrow waxing will be available at salons like Lavish and AMS Loft Salon and Bridal in Moosic. Lip and chin waxes will not.
AMS has their stylists spread out throughout the salon, said owner Amy Siejk, adding the salon had to adapt the new guidelines into their flow.
They also split their stylists into two shifts — 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. — seven days a week to have less staff members on the floor. During the hour between shifts, the salon will be deep cleaned. They have four sinks but will use every other.
She said while AMS already sanitized, they’re now more aware of smaller items to consistently clean, including doorknobs.
“The unknown was the scary part,” Siejk said the early days of the pandemic. “Just not knowing an end in sight was a little unnerving. Once the guidelines came out, it wasn’t even about a bottom line, whatever I needed to buy I bought to make everyone feel safe and get back up and running.”
Siejk said social media has been a huge life line of communication to their customers during the reopening process.
“The support is so overwhelming. It’s really been wonderful,” she said.
Woodard said the past couple days have been exciting.
“People have been very understanding,” she said. “Being shut down for almost 30% of your year is so stressful and overwhelming but emotionally, it takes a toll. We’re small business owners, we love our clients. We missed seeing them.”
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