WESTFIELD – As Gov. Charlie D. Baker’s plan to reopen parts of the state’s economy comes closer, local businesses that are considered part of Phase 1 have begun preparing to reopen under new guidelines.
Among the businesses that have been cleared to reopen in Massachusetts May 25 are barber shops and hair salons. Given that it has been eight weeks since most hairdressers closed their doors due to COVID-19, many people may be long overdue for a haircut or a scheduled hair coloring.
Slight Edge Salon owner Awilda Colombani said that she has been closed since March 15, shortly after Gov. Baker placed Massachusetts in a State of Emergency due to the pandemic.
Colombani said that when Slight Edge does reopen, they will have to make a lot of adjustments in order to comply with state and CDC guidelines. Though she is relieved to be able to finally work again, they will not be able to have the same level of business they had before COVID-19 changed everything.
“We have had to move things around in the salon. We have had to move everything out of the reception area,” said Colombani, “We will not be doing walk-ins. Everything will be by appointment only and we can only have one client at a time.”
Customers will be asked to wait in their car to be called in to the salon when it is their turn. They will also not be able to blow dry anybody’s hair, so Colombani asks that people come with recently shampooed and blow dried hair.
When one is getting their hair done, it is naturally impossible for social distancing to occur between the stylist and the client. In order to mitigate this, all employees and clients will be required to follow the state-mandated mask order. To get around the mask shortages, Colombani has been making her own cloth masks for any stylists or clients who need one.
Though she said that they sanitize the store regularly in normal times, now they will be following a much stricter sanitation regiment to keep the store clean.
With eight weeks of missed business also comes eight weeks of appointments that have to now be rescheduled. As of Thursday afternoon she said she had not yet begun the rescheduling process, but Colombani said that those who had cancelled appointments in March would be the first priority. In order to accommodate the high volume of appointments, she said they may switch to longer working hours.
Though she said she is thankful to be able to go back to work, Colombani questioned whether hair salons and barber shops should have been included in Phase 1.
“They should have just opened stores and factories where people can social distance first,” said Colombani, “Salons and massage therapists and such should probably have waited a little longer.”
Regardless, she said she is just happy to have work at all, as some salons have had to close their doors permanently due to the economic impact of the pandemic. In order to stay afloat, however they will need to invest money in different ways to comply with regulations and try to get as many appointments as they can.
“We need to invest in new color processing that works faster so that we may accommodate more people,” said Colombani.
Whatever they do, it will be a challenge for them to get to a level of business comparable to what they had before.
“In the end we’re going to lose, no matter what,” said Colombani.