No reception area. No walk-ins. Empty booths.
Those are some of the changes customers can expect see as hair salons and barber shops begin to reopen across the United States.
Jalainna Ellis, owner of All That Jazz salon and spa in Cheyenne, Wyoming, said taking the temperature of arriving customers became part of the new protocol when she reopened her business May 1.
The magazines and lookbooks are gone, too, with customers headed directly to their respective hairstylist rather than waiting in a reception area that no longer exists. Face masks are required, for customers and members of the 17-person staff, Ellis said.
"It's nerve-wracking,' Ellis told USA TODAY. "We are not trained to wears masks and work. Your vision is skewed, so it takes more concentration.
"When we blow dry our clients, it's like we have a plastic bag over our face. It's exhausting not being able to take a full breath of oxygen.''
In many salons, every other booth will be empty, if not to create adequate space between customers, to adhere to state regulations limiting how many people can be in a room.
Ellis also said she has stopped the common practice of double-booking customers, which allowed stylists to cut one customer’s hair while letting hair color process on another customer.
As a result, Ellis said, her salon is working at about 50% capacity. She said on average she sees five customers a day, compared to the 10 to 15 a day she averaged before the pandemic.
At The Bar Barber Shop in Lancaster, California, there will be will plastic partitions in the reception area and partitions between each of the haircutting stations, said Katya Tazala, who owns and runs the business with her husband.
Tazala said they also will install UV lights at each station because she said she thinks the lights will help kill COVID-19. The total cost to update the barbershop is about $1,000, Tazala said.
Another thing some customers can expect: they'll have to find a new hair salon or barbershop.
Steve Sleeper, executive director of the Professional Beauty Association, said he expects about 20% of salons to close as a result of the pandemic. In addition to salons being forced to work below capacity because fewer employees will be allowed to work at the same time, there is the cost of remodeling and adhering to new safety guidelines.
Daniel Mason Jones, owner of Muse Salon and Spa in Atlanta, said he spent $11,300 for a six-week supply of PPE for his 70-person staff.
But what might be harder to find in coming weeks is hair color. Jones said a shortage is inevitable because social distancing has reduced the staff size at warehouses and stripped their ability to meet demand.
“There is not a hair coloring shortage yet,’’ he said. “It is going to happen.’’
With salon owners grappling with COVID-19 health issues, Barbicide, a company that manufactures products designed to clean and disinfect salons, barbershops and spas, has created a back-to-work plan. Other resources are available at the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology website.