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Hair salons open to limited services under Stay-At-Home 2.0

  • Ashley Brydon cuts the hair of Anna Zukowski of Rindge at Added Touch Salon in Rindge on Monday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Ashley Brydon cuts the hair of Anna Zukowski of Rindge at Added Touch Salon in Rindge on Monday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/11/2020 3:30:57 PM

As Phase 1 of business reopening hits New Hampshire, some hair salons have weeks’ worth of customers on their waiting lists, while others are holding out for better opening conditions.

“I think it’s great. A little bit of normalcy is what we need,” said Anna Zukowski of Rindge, who was getting her hair cut at Added Touch Salon in Rindge on Monday, on the first day salons were allowed to reopen.

Zukowski, like other salon-goers this week, had to take additional precautions. Salons and barbers are only allowed to take customers by appointment, and waiting rooms are not allowed – customers wait outside or in their cars until it’s time for their appointments. Both the customer and the person cutting hair must wear masks, and customers submit to a temperature check and disinfect their hands before their haircut.

Zukowski said to her, the precautions are reasonable and allow business to carry on. She said she wasn’t put off by the new protocols.

“You can’t live in fear, but you have to follow the rules,” she said. “I think if you follow those rules and are smart, you’re fine. And if you feel uncomfortable, stay at home.”

Haircuts under “Stay-At-Home 2.0”

“Stay-At-Home 2.0,” as it’s being referred to by Governor Chris Sununu, outlines a plan for a phased reopening of the state’s businesses.

Barbers and salons are among the businesses who have received new protocols and permission to open as of May 11. However, it is not business as usual for local hair-cutters.

While safety protocols are in place to help accomplish social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is the restriction of services some salons say will be the real struggle for them. Stay-At-Home 2.0 only allows salons and other cosmetology businesses to provide haircuts and root touch-up color services.

That means no services like highlights, styling and waxing –  and blow drys aren’t allowed.

There are safety protocols, including no reception areas allowed, clients by appointment only, and conducting screenings with clients as they arrive to determine whether they had any COVID-19 symptoms, and a six-feet distance between staff stations, and the number of clients not exceeding the number of staff.

But the road to business as usual isn’t completely smooth.

Added Touch Salon owner Deb Farley said four of her stylists have not returned to work, because of fears of contracting the coronavirus. Those that are comfortable returning are now working overtime due to the demand, and restrictions that require they see only a small customer base at a time.

Bill Brock, co-owner of Manhattan East Hair Design in Peterborough said the restrictions on service do put a pinch on business, to the point that if it was a purely financial decision, opening while only allowed to do cuts and touch-ups isn’t necessarily sustainable long-term.

“A huge part of our business is highlights,” Brock said. “And having the limitation on the number of people that can be in the salon makes it hard. Financially, [opening] may not be the best decision. But the employees want to be back to work, and we want to be able to cater to clients.”

Some salons have made the decision to wait to reopen until some of those service restrictions are lifted, such as ELL Salon in Jaffrey.

Owner Lindsay Bartlett said she is concerned about her business’s finances and safety.

“We can’t do a quarter of the things we usually do,” Bartlett said.

Even regular haircuts are limited by the restriction on blow-drying, Bartlett said. She said she’s made the decision to wait on reopening until later this year, shooting for June, when she hopes the state will be in a later phase of reopening, and some of the salon restrictions have been lifted. 

“It doesn’t seem reasonable to go back now, make way less, and not be able to provide the service people are expecting, especially if I’m putting myself at risk,” Bartlett said.

She said some of the restrictions still in place didn’t make sense to her, such as continuing the ban on nail technicians and tanning, which she said have as much or less contact with a customer as a stylist.

Bartlett said she’s fine with the restriction protocols for social distancing, masks and gloves, and appointments, and said if she was able to open with a full service, she would under those protocols, but said the restrictions on service would make it too difficult.

Candy Curtis, owner of Candy’s Hair Salon in Jaffrey, said she’s just happy to be open, even if it’s not for all the services she usually offers. Her small shop usually hosts four employees, including herself, she said, one of which is dedicated to doing highlights. That employee has not been able to return to work, yet, she said, because of those restrictions.

She usually has three employees working on hair at a time, and has reduced that to two per shift, to allow proper space, but said even though what they can do is limited, their services are in big demand.

“For our sanity, we’re really happy to be back, and it’s going very smoothly,” Curtis said. “We’re excited to be back, and we’re taking all the precautions our governor is asking for. We feel secure. I just wish we could go back to doing everything. We really can’t offer a full service right now, and that doesn’t seem fair to both our clients and us, as artists. But we want to stay safe and make our clients feel safe as well.”

A big demand

Ashley Brydon, a stylist at Added Touch, said she’s relieved to be back at the job. She said the protocols in place make her feel comfortable to be behind the chair again.

“They’re not far-fetched,” Brydon said of the governor’s rules for stylists and salons. “The new rules are doable.”

Brock said he’s been ready for this re-opening for a long time, taking the past month to secure extra masks and sanitation products, and has just been waiting for the word to re-open, which came this month – though not without restrictions.

“People are ecstatic,” Brock said, who said the first day of being back in business on Monday already came with a booked salon.

“We have a list of 300 people waiting for an appointment,” Brock said.

Farley said she’s been taking calls for potential appointments for the past month, and opened on Monday to a long waiting list of customers.

“We’re booked solid this week,” she said.

And for Curtis, she said her appointment book is full for the next month, which she said is very unusual, but also comforting when salons are currently prohibited from taking walk-in customers.


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