Here comes the ... groom: Before reopening, barbers, salons prep to get a head (or more)
When Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday his four-phase plan to reopen the state's economy, Kim Oakes already was thinking ahead to the time she could reopen her hair salon.
So were her customers.
"We had 34 voicemails when I came in Tuesday morning and the phones haven't stopped ringing since," said Oakes, owner of the Shear Madness Salon in North Adams for 17 years. "We figured we would be in the first wave because of the demand, and I wasn't too shocked about the requirements."
In order for local salons and barbershops to open, they must follow social distancing guidelines, hygiene and cleaning protocols and new staffing procedures. A list of safety standards, along with a checklist, have been published at mass.gov. There also are a limited amount of services available. Haircuts, coloring, blow-drying and treatments are allowed. Meanwhile, eyebrows, beard trimmings, lip waxing and manicures are not permitted in phase one.
"There are a lot of regulations and plenty of pressure to meet them all in just one week," said Anne DelGrande, the owner of Terrace Hair Studio in Lee for over 35 years.
"Some things are hard to get for both the sanitation and signage requirements," she said. "We've been asking clients to leave their name and number and have patience."
DelGrande met with her staff Wednesday afternoon in order to develop a game plan that makes people feel safe, and to establish the sanitizing standards, all while getting everything in line to open.
"We had to reschedule appointments after trying to open on May 4 and May 18, before everything was pushed back," DelGrande said. "We've started to space out the salon and we're excited to get back to work."
Shops are beginning to put up signage, create visual markers where clients can sit and even install a shield at the front desk in order to protect receptionists. While waiting areas remain closed, customers are required to arrive at their appointments alone and wait outside or in their cars until they can be seen. Also, each shop must maintain a log of workers and customers in order to support contact tracing.
"Most of the sanitizing we already did," Oakes added. "Our biggest changes are wearing masks and limiting employees because of our space."
Shops have spent the past week trying to balance the preparation needed to reopen while creating an environment that helps customers remain safe.
"I took a Barbicide COVID-19 certification course online," said Joe Castoldi, owner of Castoldi's Barber Shop. "I've been in business for over 40 years, and these changes, we have to go with the time and follow the guidelines.
"I felt the need to step up a little more and be the best I can be by doing everything I can to stay up to date," he said.
Castoldi added that most of his business was walk-in haircuts, but he received over 30 phone calls Monday alone after Baker's announcement. The safety standards require customers to make an appointment in advance.
"We are a very clean shop," he said. "I believe that these are good guidelines and I believe in this safety."
When Terrace Hair Studio opens Monday, it will feature a chart depicting Berkshire County's fight against COVID-19.
"I made my own chart of the daily cases in Berkshire County," DelGrande said. "I am putting it at the shop to show that we are getting through this."
Jake Mendel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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