The root of the problem: Hair salons way behind after two-month shutdown

Jeff Bobo • May 7, 2020 at 11:54 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Wednesday was the first day hair salons could reopen in Tennessee, and there were a lot of dark and/or gray roots in need of touching up at the Looking Glass in downtown Rogersville.

Stylist Ann DeWitte said she had already filled her appointment book with customers who had to be rescheduled after the statewide COVID-19 shutdown took effect in March.

On Wednesday, the first round of lucky customers was able to return at least one aspect of their lives to normalcy — getting their hair done.

Still, there will be many snips and dye jobs to come before the Looking Glass will be caught up.

“There are some long roots around here”

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” DeWitte told the Times News Wednesday. “I believe we could charge $100 per haircut and get it today. There are some long roots around here. I am booked for the month … and I’m working Sunday afternoons and Saturdays, and I normally just work Tuesday through Fridays.”

DeWitte added, “I’m working 10 days straight until everybody is caught up. That’s a lot of heads, but I feel blessed that we’ve got that many people who have waited for us.”

Day One customer Dottie Mayes got lucky Wednesday. She said she did a drive-by Wednesday afternoon and gave the salon a call, and stylist Gena Cassity was available.

Mayes said she survived the past six weeks without professional hair care by trimming her own bangs and using the Loreal “pull it through cap stuff” — “until I run out of darker color hair.”

She said she’s happy to have at least one part of her life back to normal.

“We will take anything normal,” Mayes said. “We’re just thankful.”

“We use lots of Clorox”

The state issued special guidelines for the reopening of Close Contact Businesses like hair salons, but DeWitte said she and her colleagues at the Looking Glass were already practicing most of those precautions.

“We have to keep less than 10 people in the salon, clean capes, clean the area after each client leaves — masks if someone feels like we need to wear a mask,” DeWitte said. “If there’s any coughing, I have a thermometer, so if somebody comes in and I’m questionable about whether they have a fever or not, I will ask them if I can take their temperature.”

DeWitte added, “Your basic sanitation in a beauty shop kind of keeps you within regulations. That’s part of our education — is how to keep everything sanitized, and we use lots of Clorox. Before we leave in the evenings, wipe everything down, spray everything down, and throughout the day spray. Take everything home and wash it every night so that nothing is left here.”

Guidelines for reopening Close Contact Businesses

The guidelines state, “Due to the nature of close contact personal services, an abundance of caution should be exercised to mitigate or prevent exposure to COVID-19. Persons who are more vulnerable or at-risk for COVID-19 as identified by the CDC — including those who are over the age of 65 or those who have severe underlying medical conditions — should take extra precaution or refrain from using close contact personal services during Phase 1 of re-opening.”

Click here for a link to the state guidelines.

A few of the highlights include: 

— Screen all employees reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms. Practice recommended social distancing to the greatest extent possible. Employees should increase hygiene practices.

— Employees should wear a cloth face covering (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) and other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC. Perform regular disinfection of high-touch surface areas.

— Screen customers for illness upon their entry into the premises. Limit the number of customers allowed in the premises to 50% of fire code capacity.

— Prohibit use of waiting areas. Businesses should remove all books, magazines, or any shared material for customers. Ensure thorough workstation and equipment disinfection after each customer.

— Daily deep cleaning and sanitization to be completed for high-touch areas. Open windows and doors where possible to increase ventilation.

— Do not allow non-customer companions to accompany customer during a service.



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