The coronavirus pandemic has led to many mandated lockdowns on non-essential businesses, as a result, nail salons nationwide have been closed for the last few months. This has taken a serious toll on many small business owners and their staff.
Now, several states, including Colorado, Texas, Georgia, California and New York, have begun the road to recovery in reopening nail salons. This is good news for dedicated customers who are longing to experience the privilege of having their nails professionally groomed again -- but it doesn't come without questions about safety.
"Salons need a plan to ensure that they can reopen while minimizing the risks," Nicole Hallett, an associate clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, told "GMA." Hallett said that all manicurists should be asking their employers how they plan to protect workers and customers from viral transmission.
Without a doubt, salons will look different than they did before the pandemic, and they will have a number of safety precautions for employees and clients.
How have salons reopened amid COVID-19?
While there are many states that have yet to announce a hard date on reopening nail salons, there are others such as Colorado, Texas and Georgia that have already been reopened for the past few weeks.
Base Coat Nail Salon has three Denver-based flagship locations that have begun reopening with a host of new guidelines that include (but aren't limited to) keeping stations six feet apart, keeping acrylic guard sets in place and using plastic chair coverings.
Co-founder Trans Wills says the decision to open didn't come without hesitation. "I was definitely taken back when the Colorado shelter at-home order was lifted on May 8 for nail and hair salons -- especially before restaurants. Cases in Colorado were still rising at the time and we were also not getting strong guidelines or guidance from the Colorado Board of Cosmetology or our local health department. We were just not comfortable with reopening," said Wills.
"As a company that cares deeply about our guests and employees we made the decision to delay opening on June 1, even though we felt ready to open with all the necessary new safety and health guidelines we put in place and PPE to protect our guests and employees and follow the CDC Guidelines," Wills added.
Prior to opening, Base Coat Nail Salon staff also went through "COVID-19 employee training" and have become Barbicide and Milady certified to assure every staffer has the education needed to keep every tool and station as clean as possible.
Each guest will now also go through a three-step guest sanitation process which includes a symptom screening, hand sanitizing with 70% alcohol sanitizer and hand washing at a designated sink before being seated with his/her nail artist.
Dallas-based Verbena Parlor, which offers nail, facial and waxing services, also released reopening plans which include regular COVID-19 testing for staff.
"Each employee must have a negative COVID-19 test result, which we coordinated and paid for," Verbena Parlor founder Ashley Tran told "GMA." She also explained that all staff must now be Barbicide certified, wearing a KN95 mask at all times in the salon and wearing eye protection during services. Staff must also dispose of gloves after each service, sanitize all surfaces prior to the next client in addition to washing and sanitizing hands prior to service.
"Employees are not allowed to come to work if they have any symptoms lists on the CDC website," Tran said.
Additionally, Verbena Parlour's new guidelines will include customer temperature checks prior to service.
Many salons are also requiring masks to be worn at all times by employees and staff.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Simone Wildes told "GMA" that it will be difficult to maintain the six feet apart rule for social distancing while in nail salons, and she believes face shields should be worn by employees and customers for additional protection.
Wildes also said it would be best to limit the number of areas one touches while in the salon and to wash one's hands frequently or use hand sanitizer when one enters and leave the salon.
How to keep safe at nail salons amid COVID-19:
- Make an appointment ahead of time as there will be limits on how many people can be in salons at a time.
- Wear your mask for the duration of your visit.
- Wash your hands before and after salon services.
- Practice social distancing while visiting salons.
Red flags to watch for:
- Individuals not wearing masks
- Surfaces not being cleaned thoroughly between each client
- Staff not washing hands or sanitizing between customers
"If you feel that the salon is not adequately prepared for reopening, then you should wait to have service done," she said. "It is best to have your self-care when you feel safe and secure in your environment and with the provider of your services."
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that businesses in several regions of New York are now being given the green light to move toward phase three reopening. This includes nails salons.
California's Gov. Gavin Newsom also gained a lot of attention when announcing nail salons, tattoo parlors and hair salons could get back to business starting on June 19, under the California Department of Public Health guidelines.
Others states have been rolling out plan as well on a weekly basis.