(WTNH) — Salons, like restaurants, are part of Connecticut’s Phase One reopening beginning May 20. However, some hairstylists and salon owners have come forward to say salons should not be a part of this first stage. Now, the governor is making the reopening a little easier for them.
In a statement Monday evening, Governor Ned Lamont’s Press Secretary reversed one of the restrictions originally put in place for salon reopening, saying salons will now be able to use hair dryers, (dome-shaped that go over the head, and hand-held), when they reopen May 20.
The following content is the original reporting on this story.
State leaders have detailed new conditions for retailers, restaurants, and even hair salons for phase one of reopening Connecticut.
Some of the restrictions include 50% capacity in the building, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes present at entrance points, work stations must be six feet apart with physical barriers, and stylists will not be allowed to use blow dryers over concerns of moving possible contaminants around.
Hairstylists told News 8 Sunday, “In the hairdressing industry, there’s really no such thing as social-distancing. We’re in direct physical contact.”
“Realistically, I would love to get back to work,” another stylist explained. “I miss my customers, I miss the girls I work with, I miss my job and the jobs that we had. But realistically, I don’t think phase one is a good idea. I think we should re-evaluate it.”
Torrington hair stylist Diana Dumond runs her business out of her home. She misses her clients more than anything, but is alarmed at the prospect of reopening her home and her salon in just over one week.
“I think it’s way too soon. I think businesses that can do better with social distancing should start off with phase 1, make sure the social distancing goes OK, and then phase us in,” she said.
Stylist Alyssa Wiener told News 8 Monday she and her entire immediate family are immunocompromised. She says the health risks, coupled with the state’s strict guidelines on social distancing, PPE, and limiting service, is not worth it.
Going back to work this soon would not only be dangerous for her health but not beneficial to her wallet.
“Our services are going to be significantly lessened. We can’t blow dry. We have to have fewer bodies in the salon at any time so you’re telling me now I need to risk not having my unemployment in order to go back and make three quarters less money on my paycheck?” she said.
Though State leaders released the update requirement lists for salons that wish to re-open, it still did not ease the minds of some who are worried.
Amy Kindt, a hairstylist at Cutting Crew said, “Even with the restrictions and if we do have the proper safety equipment, we still come in contact with multiple people every day. I understand it is going to be 50% less than what we were doing before but realistically, we can do 20 haircuts in a day, maybe now it’s only 10….We have to be close to people, we can’t stand six feet away or successfully execute a haircut or cut somebody’s bangs. How could you do that?”
And while business is important, Kindt says this should be on the mind of salon owners going forward.
“It should be health and safety,” she says, “over vanity and greed.”
The CT Beauty Association, which advocates for beauty professionals in the state, has started a campaign on Facebook with “salon and spa owners looking to ensure the safe and successful reopening of all beauty professionals and our salon/spa businesses.”
The page has nearly 3,000 members – including Dumond and Wiener. The goal is to convince the State to not include salons in the reopening until later stages.
Even salon owners who were looking forward to the May 20th phase one plan are now questioning the state’s guidance.
Leslie Beard owns BRANDEDstyles. Her customers can’t wait to come back. But Beard says the restrictions on services like blowdrying make it hard to do her job.
“We use it as an actual tool to make sure our work is done properly. It helps us check our work,” she said, “that’s going to really limit us.”
Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz says no one should feel pressured to re-open, adding that the State wants to keep employees and consumers safe.
But Beard says, “The problem is if I choose not to open my salon, and the salon down the street opens, now my customers are going to the salon down the street.”
Governer Lamont has said salons have the freedom to furlough anyone who does not want to go back to work. The Department of Labor says workers who aren’t given that option can appeal to them to stay on unemployment benefits. Officials say that will be considered case by case.