It’s impossible to remain six feet away from someone who’s cutting your hair or giving you a massage.
How then – when distance is the antidote to the person-to-person spread of the coronavirus – are service businesses such as salons and spas preparing to reopen while keeping their customers and staff members safe?
Carefully and confidently, according to the local business owners we spoke with, all of whom had several planning practices in common: stepping up cleaning and disinfecting protocols, modifying spaces to create greater distances among customers, modifying schedules to allow more time for cleaning, eliminating public waiting areas, installing Plexiglas at nail stations and using masks for both staff and guests.
“I am 1,000 percent confident we will be providing safe service,” said Kama Duessler, owner of the Clipper’s Mate Salon in Sturgeon Bay. “We have a ton of control, and I feel the utmost confidence in the safety of our team and our guests – which is, of course, our priority.”
Prescreening customers for coronavirus symptoms and risk factors prior to appointments was another practice local business owners intended to adopt.
“We want to be sure we’re not allowing guests that could be a potential risk to our guests and other staff,” said Connie Hafenbredl, who owns Saguaro Day Spa and Wellness Center of Door County in Sturgeon Bay with daughter Alycia Schultz.
Duessler also anticipated a need for virtual consultations as they prepare to see customers who may have cut or colored their own hair during the past couple of months.
“I’m sure there will be some interesting new looks happening,” she said. “Whatever someone did to get through this time, we can make it better.”
That includes an anticipated large number of color corrections, which can double the time of a normal color appointment – up to four hours.
“That’s why we want to have these conversations so we know how much time we need,” she said.
The Clipper’s Mate intends to take the temperature of staff members every morning to screen for one of the primary symptoms of the coronavirus – something that’s also being considered at Spa Verde in Egg Harbor. But that and other details, such as the use of gloves, still need to be worked out, said owner Kathy Navis.
“Most practitioners will wear gloves, but I’m not sure if massage therapists will wear gloves,” Navis said. “There’s so many things you have to think about. Every day we’re coming up with new information.”
Specific guidance from the state is still pending. Based on that guidance, other practices may be adopted and some services eliminated initially, such as massages of the most contagious part of the body: the face.
The need for this industry-specific guidance was a refrain that all of the business owners voiced.
“What we need is an update from the state of Wisconsin on what the requirements will be for our industry,” Navis said. “We are gathering requirements from other states that have reopened or are reopening to try to at least jog our thinking on what we need to address.”
Both Saguaro and Spa Verde are planning on a June 1 reopening and are not in favor of opening sooner.
Duessler said she wanted to reopen as soon as the state allowed it, given the economic impact the shutdown has had on local businesses and her confidence in her staff’s ability to create a safe environment.
“If we can open next week instead of next month, four weeks can make a big difference,” she said. “I am definitely in favor of sooner versus later.”
All the business owners said they anticipated clients would be excited to return.
“People are just ready,” Hafenbredl said. “They’ve been through this with stress and tension that’s being held in everybody’s bodies and souls. They just need the TLC we give them.”