DENVER (CBS4) – Jennifer Ramsey is about as ready as can be.
“I’m anxiously awaiting my clients and getting back to work and getting back to whatever normalcy looks like.”
She will be ready to go Saturday when the salon where she rents her chair gets going again. She’s been booking appointments for weeks.
“As you can see, the chairs are well spaced out beyond 6 feet.”
The salon, At The Shop in the Union Station North area is not a big place. She and other stylists rent space and it was a dream to run her own operation.
“We opened in November with a bang and we’re in a great neighborhood, great response.”
Then the coronavirus outbreak hit.
“The bills march on, these girls just opened the shop, they’ve gotten no relief. The lease is heavy here. Whether we’re in here cutting hair or not, they have to pay it.”
The owners have been good to her, in spite of the payments due.
“They were gracious enough to not ask booth renters to pay our rents because they know we’re not making any money. They took all the burden on themselves.”
The salon came up with plans for a limited reopening. The state of Colorado has made rules they’ll follow and they’ll limit the people inside. Customers will have to stay out and await a text that things are disinfected and ready. Only three stylists will be able to be at work at a time, meaning fewer overall hours. With three customers allowed in, that means no more than six in the shop at a time. They’ll space out the appointments.
“An extra 15 minutes between each haircut to wipe down the sinks, wipe down the chairs, sanitize our hands extra.”
Stylists will wear masks and hand them to customers to wear as well. There’s no social distancing possible during hairstyling work. Ramsey says with all they are doing, she’s more worried about going to the grocery store.
“To be honest I’m more worried about getting the virus there than I am coming to this little shop,” she said.
Larger salons have careful plans, too. Marvin Gutierrez is a co-owner of Matthew Morris Salons, with Denver shops in RiNo, on Broadway and in the Denver Tech Center. They have 60 chairs total, but when they start up again, they will not be full.
“We’re going to start with only 10 people in the space at one time,” explained Gutierrez. “So that, including staff, so not too many people in here at once for everybody’s safety.”
That will mean longer hours and adding more days to the work week.
“Two 4 hour shifts a day. Seven days a week. It will be hard, it’s going to be tough.”
They, too, will require masks for workers and customers. Clients will have to wait outside.
“There’s only so many hours in the day, but if I have to come in at 6 in the morning we’ll get people taken care of.”
They have had stylists take online certification classes in how to safely disinfect. They will also take the temperatures of customers coming in, to potentially turn people who may be actively sick away.
“You just have to assume everybody has it to protect yourself and everybody else.”
He knows that at some point they could have someone who is infectious in the salon. That’s the danger for every business reopening.
“That can be, but with all the precautions we’re taking, in the back on your head you have to, even when I’m out in the street I just think everybody has it. I have my mask on all the time.”
There’s another aspect to opening both places now. There’s more to salons that hair appointments. There’s a social atmosphere. There is an element of listening and counseling and encouraging. It’s part of the deal.
“There’s not going to be the hug at the end. You know, the ‘I miss you.’ That’s going to be really hard,” said Gutierrez.
Even for him, it’s tough to adjust.
“I mean it’s weird. I own the place, but I feel like I’m starting a new job,” he said.
Ramsey believes her work should have been considered an essential service all along. She has found she may be as needy as her clients.
“The thing is that I’ve definitely learned that I am a people person and being isolated even for six weeks, is just not who I am.”
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