Salon Workers Fear Reopening Requirements May be Unrealistic

Hair Salon - a row of hair washing sinks and chairs.

For the hair salons that opt to reopen on May 20, business is going to look very, very different.

From stations being further apart, to extra sanitization steps, and stylists wearing masks and face shields, almost nothing will be the same.

The state said this is what has to happen to keep everyone safe, but some stylists said a lot of it seems unrealistic, and too early.

"Our phones blew up when we got that word that we were going to open on May 20.  But we’re too afraid to start rescheduling clients because there’s a lot of moving parts going on,” Rosetta Fraleigh, owner of cutters Edge Salon said.

Fraleigh said she’d love to reopen her Rocky Hill salon, but she and other stylists worry with COVID-19 not fully resolved, a May 20 reopen date may not be safe for their industry, which is built on regular, close contact with many people.

 “I’m doing someone’s hair.  I’m not saving lives.  I’m not providing medical service.  I think hair can wait,” Paula Chiaputti, a stylist at Alta Moda Salon and Spa, said.

Among the new requirements announced Friday, salons can only operate at 50% capacity with work stations 6 feet apart, stylists and customers must wear face coverings, and salon waiting rooms can’t be used.

“Right now we feel the hair salons can open safely.  We’ve worked closely with them, worked closely with OSHA and other groups and we feel like we can do it this way, but it doesn’t work unless you feel the same way,” Gov. Lamont said.

Salon owner Tina Shannahan doesn’t feel the same way. She said her salon doesn’t have the space to keep everyone working with 6 feet of distance, and these kinds of changes to bookings would destroy her bottom line.

 “I will be working at Walmart because there’s no way.  It’s just not worth us going in and doing that and not being able to take as many clients as we do.  That’s how we make our money,” she said.

Another reopening requirement is that blow dryers cannot be used, something stylists said would be a big hit to how they do business.

 “It’s difficult and also people may want to pay less money since they’re not getting a full service and we’re already making a lot less money as it is because we have to take a lot less clients,” Chiaputti said.

Additional sanitization mandates will also be in effect, another challenge stylists said they’re not sure they can meet with many cleaning supplies still so scarce.

Each of the three stylists who spoke with NBC Connecticut said they realize the state and the world are operating in unchartered territory right now, and worry about what things will be like whenever their doors reopen.

“This is just a little bit bigger than just hair for me,” Fraleigh said.

At Friday’s news conference, the lieutenant governor announced a teleconference with salon industry professionals. She said the state is eager to hear from the industry for feedback, and willing to take suggestions.

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