WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Hair salons and barbershops are the latest businesses allowed to reopen, and that meant a busy morning for many. They were prepared, because they were originally told they could open almost two weeks ago.
It had been about 10 weeks since Dino Fernicola last had a customer in Dino’s Modern Barbershop in Wallingford, and he made a lot of changes and bought a lot of stuff since then.
“First and foremost, our PPE products,” Fernicola explained. “You know, the masks, the hand sanitizer, barbacide, which is a popular disinfectant popular in our industry.”
He also bought a washer and drier to handle all the cloths and towels he’ll be using. Plus, he bought a thermometer for fever checks.
“We’ll also be wiping down the door handles and any places that are high traffic and touched and things like that to make sure it’s a safe experience here,” Fernicola said.
One of the day’s first customers was Ben Backes. As a boy, he got his first haircut from Dino. During the pandemic, he had to figure something else out.
“My fiancée just cut it in our home,” Backes said. “She did the best she could. I’m happy with it. I’m more happy with this.”
Hundreds of hair stylists would have been happier still if the state had allowed them to open on May 20, as originally planned. Back then, Jason Bunce held a demonstration outside his Skull & Bones shop in New Haven to protest the delay.
“Mentally, hard to swallow. The loss of income just continues,” Bunce said. “My business is down about $80,000 from last year. So that has been the hardest pill to swallow in all of this.”
But there is hope Skull & Combs can make some of that up now.
“We’re about 75-90% booked, usually,” said Bunce. “Now, it’s at 100%.”
Bunce was getting so many calls, he unplugged the phone. Back in Wallingford, Fernicola’s phone is ringing non-stop.
“A ton of people, through Facebook and through calling and leaving messages,” Fernicola said.
Like pretty much everywhere else you go these days, when you go to the salon or barbershop, the rule is: Wear a mask, and if you’re feeling sick, stay home.