Step into Merle Norman in downtown Farmington, and you’ll quickly see how visiting a Michigan salon has changed due to COVID-19.
Businesses that offer personal services will re-open Monday, three months after closing under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” Executive Order. Among the last back in business, salons, spas, and barbershops must follow strict guidelines that include:
- Maintaining client records to help with contact tracing in case someone is diagnosed with COVID-19
- Creating six feet of social distancing between workstations
- Limits to waiting area occupancy and discarding magazines and other nonessential shared items
- Requiring employees to use masks and other personal protective equipment, and requiring clients to wear masks
- Installing physical barriers at cash registers and in areas where social distancing isn’t possible
Merle Norman owner Karen Gara said she and her team developed their own reopening plan well in advance of the state action, as salons had very little advance guidance about required safety measures. They did their own research and contacted salons in states that had already reopened.
“One of the struggles has been getting information from the county, the state, and even higher up,” said Gara, who is also a COVID-19 survivor. “There was nothing specific for salons.”
Karlyn Cassidy, owner and operations manager at Legato Salon & Spas, agreed that information has been difficult to find.
“We’ve had to rely on Aveda guidance and our own research,” she said. “We had our own plan two weeks ago, and had a Zoom meeting with our team to go through protocols. We knew we might need to adapt if the guidelines were different, and fortunately, they weren’t.”
Both Merle Norman and Legato Salon will screen employees and clients, taking temperatures and asking questions about health and potential COVID-19 exposure. Both have also closed waiting rooms and plan to call or text clients to let them know when the stylist is ready for them.
“Our main formula is there’s a barrier between the customer and the service provider, health checks, distancing, and masks, and we have response plans if an employee becomes ill,” Gara said. “If anything, I think they’re safer here than in a grocery store. They always have been, and even more so now.”
State rules limit salons to allowing only clients, their children, or caregivers, to limit contact. Gara said she is setting aside a private room for seniors, parents, or anyone who is immune compromised. It will be cleaned and sanitized after each use.
Cassidy said only half of the Legato Salon team will be working at one time, and they’ll only offer services that don’t require mask removal, such as brow and body waxing.
“I think right now our major concern is making sure we can still provide the same level of customer service,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure the day runs smoothly and that no one gets sick.”
To help out your local salon:
- Be patient. Scores of people have been waiting weeks for appointments, it may take some time for you to get one. You may also have to wait before your appointment as your stylist cleans and sanitizes after the last client.
- Reschedule your appointment if you feel ill, and especially if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Bring your mask, make sure it fits well, and wear it properly. (Here’s some advice from the Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html
- Only bring into the salon what you need – keys, phone, etc.
- Pay with a credit card if possible.