Coast hair salons ready to reopen as soon as they get the green light

Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 7:58 AM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - April 30 is National Hairstylist Appreciation Day and, with salons still closed due to the pandemic, stylists are eager to get back to work.

With a two week extension of shelter in place orders, being replaced with the Safer At Home order, Gov. Tate Reeves said this week that close contact businesses like hair salons are still unsafe to open.

Stylists are just as ready to get back to work as their clients are to get hair cuts and other services.

“Just (Wednesday) morning, I’ve had three calls, ‘Are you open yet’, so we have an understanding that the mayor is going to reconsider opening us before May 11,” said Stephany Rager, the owner of Fusion Hair Salon in Gulfport.

Rager and other salon owners throughout the Coast are already preparing to re-open their doors as soon as they are given the green light.

“What we’re doing, we’re keeping stylist at every other chair,” said Rager. “Our barbershop is on the other side of the wall, so there’s one on one side of the building and then we don’t let more than two on the other side.”

Ann Marie Sukmann-Walley, the owner of Antonian Salon in Gulfport, has been stocking up on supplies that will help keep her staff and clients safe once they can reopen.

“I have a couple things in preparations, sanitizer, disinfectant,” she said.

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Salons are already very clean places, in general, explained Sukmann-Walley.

“We wipe down the chairs every single time a client gets up and disinfect it," said Sukmann-Walley. "We had to get a certification to have the highest standards of sanitation. I am not sure a lot of people know this but we have very strict sanitation all the time the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology comes in and inspects us.”

Prior to closing the doors at Fusion, Rager said she made sure to keep everything sanitized, even changing capes after each client.

On the other side of Fusion’s building is the barber shop, where John Major is also prepared to do whatever it takes to get back to work.

“I’ll have one person at a time,” said the barber. “I work by appointment, so I’ll have one at a time coming in and we’ll disinfect between each customer. We’ll have sanitizer for the customer and masks if they want to wear them.”

Sukmann-Walley also has some ideas of what it will likely be like once salons are giving the go-ahead.

“Everybody will have to wear masks,” she said. “We are asking everyone to wear gloves just to ensure the safety of our clients and our staff and maintain the professionalism of our salon.”

In the meantime, Sukmann-Walley said her business’ phones keep ringing with people eager to get their hair done.

“Everyday, they are calling, e-mailing, texting, 10 to 15 clients a day," she said. “You know, we are a source of happiness for a lot of people and, going through this time, it is very depressing. We have been closed for almost seven weeks now. We were one of the first salons to close to ensure the safety of our clients and my staff but everybody is ready and I do believe we can open with very strict sanitation standards that will be healthy for everybody. We just hope that in a couple of weeks Gov. Reeves and the mayor will give us the go ahead.”

However, it’s always in the back of business owners’ minds that not all of their customers will be able to return right away.

"A lot of the money, the income these people had prior to this pandemic, they don't have jobs to go back to," said Rager. "So we want to know that that money is going to come back so we can keep our doors open."

Last week, Reeves announced his Safer At Home Order, which opened many businesses. The plan, said the governor, is to open thing in phases. Hopefully, salons, gyms, and other close-contact businesses will be able to open soon.

“There’s no doubt there’s a lot of issues surrounding hair salons and barbershops, etc.," said Reeves in his daily press conference on Monday. “We’re looking at the potential of trying to develop guidelines that they can open some time in the future, maybe sooner than the two week period."

Rager says if anything like this happens again, hopefully salons will be considered essential.

The governor’s Safer at Home order is in effect until 8 a.m. May 11. Reeves said he will decide closer to that date whether or not the order needs to be extended additionally.

April 30 is National Hairstylist Appreciation Day so even though your barbershop or salon may be closed, you can still send a thank-you to your stylist or buy a gift certificate for future haircuts or other services.

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