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Pictured is Doucet’s Barber Shop in Ville Platte which is across Main Street from Salon Reverie. Doucet’s like other barber shops and salons will have to screen their customers before services can be provided. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

A hairy situation

Local barbers and salon shop owners react to after effects of COVID-19 on their businesses

Looking a little shaggy lately? For most, it has been a good while without a haircut. When barber shops and salons finally open back up, there will be new guidelines to help keep customers and stylists safe.
For weeks now, COVID-19 has impacted the economy, allowing only essential workers out into the workforce. Stylists and barbers, while not essential workers, are still important and will be one of the first businesses visited when restrictions are lifted. New rules from the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology mean a trip to the salon will look a lot different than before the virus made the world stop.
It is no surprise the new rules require strict cleaning. Kasey Stagg Johnson, who owns Salon 29 in Point Blue, is gearing up for re-open. “I threw out my magazines, and I’ll have to get two chairs recovered. I’m kind of a germaphobe, so I don’t mind not having those things that can’t be wiped down or sanitized. My little girls got some ink on one of the chairs, so I would have had to replace it anyway. I went in and cleaned already. I’m ready to go.”
Emily Fontenot, owner of Doucet’s Barber Shop, said she is planning on enforcing the six-feet-apart rule and will continue to disinfect rigorously. She said up until her shop was shut down, she was extensively cleaning each day. “I disinfect with a cleaner which is just one step under surgical grade cleaner. I was closing for an hour each day and cleaning before we were shut down. I was cleaning every square inch of the walls and everything. I don’t see how Walmart is cleaning as well as I am.”
With the new rules, Fontenot will ramp up the cleaning even further. “We will be disinfecting each and every single thing, chairs and all, before and after each client. We’ll have masks for our barbers, but clients need to come with their own masks. I’ll be diffusing things to purify the air, throwing out magazines and removing things with fabric, which is curtains.”
The new rules pertaining to COVID-19 for salons have been issued by the cosmetology board and read as follows:

PRIOR TO OPENING THE SALON EACH DAY:
Place a sign at the entrance of the salon informing customers they will be screened upon entry. Services cannot be provided to any customer who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19. This includes if a person has a temperature exceeding 100.3 degrees, has had fever or other symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within the past 72 hours or has been in contact with any individual with fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
All areas of the salon which will be occupied shall be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA registered disinfectant labeled bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal. All surfaces, restrooms, breakrooms, reception area, computer keyboard, phones, door handles, light switches, and point of scale equipment, stations, shampoo bowls, manicure tables, pedicure tables, and esthetics tables need to be cleaned.
Items which cannot be sanitized shall be removed from the service area of the salon, i.e. any upholstered furniture, drapery, rugs or magazines.
Furniture which cannot be wiped down with disinfectant shall not be used and shall be removed from the service area, if possible.
Stations in use shall be at least 10 feet from each other to maintain six feet between individuals except for the licensee or permittee while receiving services.
Stations in use shall have hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol available for use.
No beverage or food service shall be allowed in the salon.

ENTRY TO SALONS:
All services shall be appointment only, and records of all services including the customer’s name and date and time of service shall be maintained by the salon for three years.
Each staff member and customer shall be screened upon entry to verify the individual does not have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or a temperature exceeding 100.3. Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or exceeding a temperature of 100.3 will not be permitted in the salon.

Fontenot said if the Louisiana Board of Barber Examiners has to follow the same guidelines as the cosmetology board then she and her other two barbers will work in shifts with appointments only. “I think the restrictions in place are a bit much. I think there’s a better way to put in restrictions than what they have in place right now.”
Doucet’s Barber Shop has been closed since March 19, but she’s hopeful the state will open up by the middle of May. “Hopefully the governor will reevaluate the restrictions so that we can have more than one client as long as we’re at least six feet apart, so that each stylist can have a client in their chair.”
Johnson said she is looking for masks or will have some made, but she’s already bought gloves. Johnson said she only worked one day in March and has been closed for a good while now. Besides the cleaning she has been doing, she said she is also going to call DryMax to get them to spray her shop.
Shountinez Brown, owner of New Image Hair Salon in Ville Platte, also shared her comments about the new guidelines. “It’s going to slow our business down because we won’t be able to take as many clients as we normally do.” She said she spends at least 2 hours on one client. She also has concerns over taking clients’ temperatures. “We’re a small business. We can’t afford to pay anyone to be sitting at the door to check anyone if they have a fever. We’ll have to keep our doors locked because of walk-ins. It will have to be appointments only. No children, no food.”
Brown said she will adhere to the new rules, but if it becomes too difficult, she might throw in the proverbial towel. “We’ll clean and disinfect the dryers and shampoo bowls and salon chairs after every use. That will slow us down, too. I do plan to open up, but if it gets too hard, I’m going to retire. I’ve been doing this for 38 years. We’re hoping and praying our clients understand our rules. A lot of people are not going to understand this.”
Once the state and the country open up for business, one thing is certain: a new reality awaits us. Precautionary measures will become the new normal.

Evangeline Today

145 Court St.
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Phone: 337-363-3939
Fax: 337-363-2841