barbershops reopening

Theresa Harris, owner of No Loose Ends, at 1805 Weeksville Road, Suite A, is among several local hairstylists and barbers whose businesses were allowed to reopen Friday under Phase Two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to ease North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions. Harris said she planned to reopen on Saturday.

Theresa Harris expects she’ll be working 13-hour days next week.

Harris, owner of the No Loose Ends salon on Weeksville Road, figures she’ll need to work that long every day just to accommodate her business’s regular clients, most of whom have been waiting two months to get their hair cut.

Like other hair salons and barbershops across the state, No Loose Ends has been closed since March 25. That’s the date Gov. Roy Cooper ordered them, along with nail salons, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, gyms and bowling alleys, to shut down as part of the state’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly contagious coronavirus.

Cooper allowed the reopening of hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors as well as the resumption of dine-in service at restaurants on Friday as part of Phase Two of his plan to ease the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. Movie theaters, bowling alleys and gyms will remain shuttered for now, however.

Clients and stylists alike are looking forward to the reopening, Harris said.

“Everyone is very excited to have their hair cut,” she said. “And we’re excited to get back to work. It’s been a long two months.”

While hair salons like No Loose Ends are allowed to reopen, returning customers will find their operations to have drastically changed.

For starters, all employees of personal care and grooming businesses — hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, tattoo parlors — are required to be masked while they’re in the business. Customers won’t be required to wear masks, but state officials are strongly recommending it.

Customers also will find their favorite hair salon or barbershop under occupancy limits. They’ll also find the seating arranged so that they’re at least six feet from other customers. There also will be at least six feet of spacing in lines at cash registers.

And then there are the cleaning rules. Salon workers are being required to perform frequent cleaning and disinfecting of so-called “high-touch” areas. They’ll also have to ensure that all equipment that comes into direct contact with customers — combs and clippers, for example — is disinfected between each customer. In addition all furniture, including chairs, capes and shampooing areas, have to be cleaned and disinfected between each customer.

While it’s not required, barbershops and hair salons are also being asked to set up — if they don’t already have one — appointment systems for services and to encourage customers to wait either in their vehicle or outside the shop before they’re served.

Given the occupancy restrictions and cleaning requirements, Harris, who plans to reopen No Loose Ends Saturday at 9 a.m., says her salon will be operating by appointment only.

Harris said No Loose Ends used to take walk-in customers, but won’t be able to now because of the need to limit the number of people in the salon and allow time to clean and sanitize work areas between clients.

“You have to clean behind everybody, and sanitize and wipe,” she said.

Only one client per stylist will be allowed in the shop and there will be two stylists working at a time. The shop has four stylists so they will be working on a rotating basis, Harris said.

Harris said with the precautions she’s taking, she believes it’s safe to reopen. There is a high level of trust between clients and stylists and they will take care of each other, she said.

Harris considers her clientele to be loyal customers.

“I’m thankful for them,” she said.

William McCaffity of Keystone Barber Shop on McMorrine Street said he will be opening his shop Tuesday at 8 a.m. He said he is eager to get back to work but wants to take the time to ensure everything is in order before he reopens.

Service will be by appointment only, he said. In addition, only two patrons will be allowed in the shop at a time — one in the chair and one waiting, he said.

“Everyone will be distancing,” McCaffity said. “Everybody is supposed to wear a mask. I will be wearing a mask.”

McCaffity said he is glad to get back to work and start making money again, and will do everything necessary to ensure the health and safety of his patrons.

Sammy Boyd, owner of Sammy’s Barber Shop on Colonial Avenue, said he’s opening he, too, is opening his shop Tuesday morning. He plans to allow only four patrons in the shop at a time.

“Everybody else will have to wait outside,” Boyd said.

Boyd said he’s eager to get back to work but reopening under the new rules will be a big adjustment for everyone.

“Everyone will need to have a lot of patience,” he said.

Jeff Horwitz, owner of Julius Star Tattoo on Weeksville Road, said he’s looking forward to reopening his shop, which he planned to do Saturday at 2 p.m.

“Very much so,” Horwitz said. “The guys are very much looking forward to getting back to work.”

He said customers have been calling to find out when they can come in and get a tattoo. When customers come in, they’ll also notice changes.

Julius Star will have two tattoo artists working at a time, but all work for now will be by appointment only, Horwitz said.

And to ensure the shop sticks to its occupancy restrictions, clients are being advised they can only bring one guest to their appointment. Julius Star is limiting the number of people in the shop at any one time to fewer than 10.

Horwitz acknowledged the requirements for reopening are detailed and can be confusing.

“It is confusing, and I had to dig and find the governor’s executive order,” he said.

And while the past two months have been difficult, Horowitz believes his business will thrive in the weeks and months ahead.

“I’m confident that while it wasn’t the best use of the past eight weeks, I’m confident that we’ll go back better than we ever were — 100 percent,” Horwitz said. “We’re definitely optimistic.”

Horwitz said the shop has been proactive, using the past couple of months to renovate and upgrade.

“Now that it’s game time we’re ready to roll,” he said.

Harris, whose shop received a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, also thinks it won’t take too long for her business to get back up and running.

“I think we’ll be fine,” she said. “I think we’ll be OK.”