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Massage, nail salons, acupuncture, other personal services open up

  • Heather Vaillancourt, of Monadnock Therapeutic Bodyworks, sanitizes her booking station at the start of her day on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/3/2020 4:12:03 PM

Personal care facilities, such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, tattoo artists, tanning and nail salons have been given the go-ahead to reopen their doors this week, as the next step in the state’s re-opening plan.

Like many of the businesses re-opening, that comes with a long list of caveats.

Ellen Smith, owner of European Aesthetics, which provides massage and spa treatments in Depot Square in Peterborough, said she re-opened her business for personal services on Wednesday. She was in the shop Monday, preparing.

“Self-love has been on the back burner these days,” Smith said. “So to be able to just have a time-out is wonderful. We have a heart in what we do, and we receive by giving, and that’s something we’ve really missed.”

That preparation meant emptying the shop of a lot of the atmosphere that makes the shop what it is – comfortable pillows and blankets for example. It’s a blow to have to make those adjustments, Smith said, but she knows it’s in the name of safety.

“I feel really safe,” she said. “Our clients respect us, and they’re not going to take a risk with us or themselves. We want to preserve their health.”

Like many by-appointment services now, personal care services are limited to having only as many customers in their stores as they have technicians, with waiting rooms being relegated to individuals in their cars in the parking lot or waiting outside for their turn. Both customers and providers are instructed to wear face masks, and providers are to disinfect between clients.

Heather Vaillancourt, owner of Monadnock Therapeutic Bodyworks in Peterborough, said massage therapy is a service that likely could have been operating safely earlier, or been considered an essential service. Many of her customers are referred to her through chiropractors or physical therapists, who were deemed essential and never shut down. She said when she officially announced her June 1 opening date, her online booking system was flooded with requests.

“It was overwhelming to see how many were ready and willing to come in. There were many more than I had anticipated,” Vaillancourt said.

Michelle Luszey, who owns Nail Trends in Jaffrey, said she’s back at work as of Friday, taking a few extra days to ensure she’s got her protocols in place. She said she’s content to start a little slower, with mostly just her regulars, to test the waters and make sure everything is working as it should.

Luszey said her feelings are “definitely mixed” about being able to get back to work. She said knowing she works closely with people – not in a way that accommodates social distancing – puts a lot of pressure on her as a provider to make sure her clients are safe.

“There’s a lot of responsibility we have to take on,” Luszey said. “Making sure that our clients haven’t been exposed, or are experiencing symptoms, and are safe while they’re here. That’s a big responsibility on all of us service providers. Even though the guidelines seem excessive, it’s just to protect us and the clients.”

After all, Luszey said, there’s not really a frame of reference for the current situation.

“Because we haven’t gone through anything like this before, [the state guidelines] are erring on the side of caution, and personally, I’m for that, rather than potentially putting myself and my clients at risk.”

But while businesses are opening up again, it’s not completely business as usual, even setting aside precautionary protocols. Smith said the European Aesthetics tea room is shut down, and they aren’t offering certain services which would require the customer to remove their face mask, such as lip waxes and – one of their most popular services – facials. Luszey said some of her regular services, such as eyelash extensions, are off the table for the time being.

Luszey said she’s also had to adjust her prices, to accommodate the extra protective equipment she uses with every client – which are still hard to come by and expensive when she finds them, she said. Also, most of her supplies have risen in price compared to the start of the year.

Vaillancourt said she is still charging her usual rates, but said the additional time she’s working before and after appointments to sanitize is going to impact the amount of clients she sees in a day for the foreseeable future.

“There a definite and significant impact that some of us are really trying to wrap our heads around at this stage,” Vaillancourt said. “So much of our local economy comes from local businesses, and it’s hard not to see how this won’t have a long-term impact, but it’s such unknown territory.”

However, even with limitations, providers said they’re eager to get back to work.

“It’s amazing, and if feels good to be able to safely provide for people who have been going without all this time,” Vaillancourt said.


Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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