Hair salons to open Monday with safety precautions

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Our state’s long hair nightmare is about to end.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus-fighting executive order banning hair salons and similar businesses from operating is set to end Monday.

But it won’t be business as usual at barbershops and hair salons, like Jeffrey Richard Salon in Grand Rapids.

One of the first changes you’ll notice, you won’t be able to just walk through the front door.

Jeffrey Richard Salon clients will need to call from the car before they can get to the chair.

A receptionist will greet them on the sidewalk.

“They will actually come out the door, do a thermometer check — touchless. Ask you a few health questions before you come in,” said Jeffrey Richard Salon owner Jeffrey Cipcic.

Health checks are among the many precautions put into place by Cipcic as his Wealthy Street salon is set to open for the first time in months.

“Our team is super well prepared, but there’s still a little trepidation,” Cipcic said. “It’s been scary, I think for everybody. Small businesses, in general, are vulnerable. I think this has just been something that has been incredibly stressful for all of us.”

Inside the salon, space will be limited.

Of the four stations along one wall of the salon, just two will be in use, even though all four are spaced six feet apart.

Pre-pandemic, the salon could handle up to 16 clients at a time. That will be cut to six at a time.

Appointments have been arranged so that a stylist won’t see the next client until the one before is out the door.

“In essence, we’re trying to get people through as fast as we can to limit exposure time. Statistically, apparently, that’s what’s critical, is how much time you spend with somebody if they happen to be positive with COVID-19,” Cipcic said.

And don’t expect a cup of coffee or other beverages while you’re sitting in the chair.

“A lot of the more bells and whistles are going to be changed for a while, unfortunately,” Cipcic said.

Tools of the trade that are normally kept in drawers will be moved to trays to make them easier to disinfect. No hair washing unless the client’s getting color treatment.

And the stylist cutting your hair will look different.

Not only will clients and stylists be required to wear masks, stylists have also been issued face guards.

Clients are also being asked to provide payment information ahead of time to cut down on contact, like customers handing receptionist a credit card.

Cepcic says he has spent about $3,000 on personal protection equipment and other safety upgrades.

But the challenge hasn’t been the money.

“Everything is out of stock. Backed up,” Cepcic said. “Ordering hand sanitizer, I had the hardest time just getting regular hand sanitizer until about two weeks ago.”

Cepcic says some clients think he’s gone overboard on some of the precautions.

But his approach is better safe than sorry.

“We just want to be extra careful,” Cipcic said. “There’s just too many unknowns with this right now. And once we get more information so we can adjust and get back to the way things were.”