A version of this was originally published on Monday, June 15.
It’s the moment our roots have been waiting for.
After COVID-19 caused salons and barber shops close their doors in March to prevent the virus from spreading, they are opening up once again.
Lackawanna County will officially move from the yellow phase to the green phase on June 26, Neighboring counties opened up earlier including Wayne and Wyoming Counties on Friday, June 12, and Luzerne County on Friday, June 19.
On June 15, the Department of State Professional Licensing released its official Green Phase Guidance for salons.
While the color “green” sounds like it’s full speed ahead, COVID-19 is still very much here and everyone must do their part to keep things safe. In addition to lots of hand washing and sanitizing (and I mean LOTS), there are many guidelines in place for salon and shop owners, stylists, barbers and clients.
First off, as a client, you must have your mask on for your entire service. When you get there, they will require you have one on. If you forget a mask, they might provide you with one. You also can be denied service. Don’t arrive too early because you can’t hang out inside while you wait for your appointment. Also, don’t bring anyone with you.
Your stylist or barber will be suited up, too, with a face mask for their entire shift. Eye protection, like goggles or glasses, and gloves are recommended. (The stylist must wear eye protection when shampooing.) Employees also should change in and out of clothing and shoes before and after their shift, and their shoes should be left at salon.
Services that are permitted include haircuts; hairstyling (braiding, dressing, curling, waving, etc.); shampooing and conditioning; chemical services such as color, bleach and perms, and manicures and pedicures. On Tuesday, the guidelines were updated to permit massage therapy services.
There’s also a section that permits “removal of superfluous hair only when such removal can be accomplished with a mask on both the salon employee and client,” which means any hair removal that doesn’t require you remove your mask. So since you’d have to remove your mask, that means hair removal from the lip or chin area are not permitted, and neither are facials.
As far the salons and shops, sanitizing and cleanliness are the top priority and even more strict than they already are. Things you may not even think about must happen throughout the day including every client must get a clean cape (PS capes are expensive) and every single thing needs to be wiped down and sanitized in between clients, as well as the end of the day.
The salon or shop cannot exceed 50% capacity, based on clientele and staff combined, and social distancing should be supported, which includes separating stations and equipment. There should be no furniture in waiting areas and no magazines, books, games, toys, beverage/coffee pots, self-service items etc. in any common areas.
Contactless payment should be used whenever possible (ApplePay, PayPal, Venmo, etc.) If using a credit card, it’s got to be wiped down. If handling cash, employees must wash their hands throughly.
Inspectors from the Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation have the right to conduct random inspections and anyone who is not adhering to these guidelines can lose their license.
I know it may seem overwhelming and things will be different from what you know, but please take some advice from Cioci Gia: be patient.
These hardworking people in the beauty and grooming industry are trying to put food on the table just like you. They also want get back to doing what they love. As difficult as it is for you as a client, it’s 50 times more difficult for them.
Stylists are doing more work for less money thanks to the sanitizing that needs to happen in between clients and at the end of the day. Also, sanitizing and cleaning products, Plexiglas, disposable capes, gloves, protective eyewear, sneeze guards and more all cost the salon money. Some stylists or barbers at some businesses may have to supply their own. No matter if its the employee or the owner, someone is spending money on all these items now needed to do their jobs.
Time is money for these workers, too, and they’re losing time for services to add in time for cleaning. Also, stylists cannot double-book which means they will lose money. For instance, my service takes over four hours. During that time my color is processing, my stylist was able to fit in 2 or 3 quick cuts. She can’t now.
Some salons and barber shops have increased their prices to make up for this, but it’s certainly not a raise for any of them.
How can you make it easier? Don’t show up if you’re feeling even a little sick. Also, don’t make their job harder by not following the rules or causing a scene because you can’t do something you’re used to. That’s ignorant and inconsiderate and I know you’re better than that. Also, tip them — preferably using one of the contactless payment methods above. (Your stylist or barber definitely has a Venmo account.) Many stylists have been out of work since March and no matter what you think you know about unemployment benefits, many still haven’t seen a dime from the state thanks to its overburdened system.
Some shops and salons had to close due to COVID. Many others were close to closing. Don’t be an asshole.
This is a brave new world for everyone involved and we’re all just doing our best. Whether you like it or not, this is our reality, and we have to accept it and embrace it for what it is.
If you can’t, please stay home.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT