CORONAVIRUS

Iowa salons, eager to style again, set new rules

'Our clients have waited for us for two months'

Jenna Conrad, office and retail manager for Nadia's Salon and Spa on Center Point Road NE in Cedar Rapids, stands at the
Jenna Conrad, office and retail manager for Nadia’s Salon and Spa on Center Point Road NE in Cedar Rapids, stands at the salon’s front desk Wednesday as the salon prepares to reopen on Monday. Gov. Kim Reynolds cleared the way for salons and barbershops to open starting Friday, but with conditions. (Kat Russell/The Gazette)

After two months of that coronavirus cut, remember this: Your hair stylist is a beautician, not a magician.

Starting Friday, salons and barbershops across the state will be allowed to once again bring a professional flair to those do-it-yourself root touch-ups and bowl cuts that Iowans have had to endure since March 17.

“We are very excited to be back,” said Nadia Hemaidan, owner of Nadia’s Salon and Spa at 3210 Center Point Rd NE in Cedar Rapids. “Our clients have waited for us for two months and they have been supportive of us this whole time, so we are very happy to be able to offer services again.”

During her daily briefing Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the easing of restrictions on a host of businesses that she had ordered outright closed or sharply limited as the state sought to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tattoo parlors, massage businesses and gyms were also given the statewide go-ahead.

But as with the other businesses, hair salons and barbershops were ordered to adhere to safety precautions.

They cannot exceed half capacity, must operate by appointment only and keep customers at least 6 feet apart.

Some salons said they’d go further.

Hemaidan said her salon will reopen Monday. For the rest of the week and over the weekend, she and her staff will be training on new protocols and sanitation procedures, she said.

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A 15-page sanitation guidebook outlines new protocols for the staff. The steps Hemaidan has outlined are extensive and include new procedures for everything from greeting and working with clients to sanitizing stylists’ chairs, stations and tools.

“We will be going through three different phases,” she said. “The red phase is what we are in now, and that comes with the highest level of precautions.”

Clients will be asked to wait in their cars until their stylist is ready. A strict “no touching” policy is being implemented.

Retail displays will be off limits, she said, and all product “testers” have been removed from the shelves. Stylists will let their clients in — opening and closing the door for them — to minimize the number of hands that touch the door handle.

“When guests come in, they will go to a welcome table where they will be given a mask and gloves. … We are asking that all our clients only bring minimal stuff with them — like keys, cellphone and wallet and that they come to the appointment alone. Only the people receiving the services will be allowed in.”

Hemaidan said she also is asking that clients leave their own masks in the car and use a mask provided by the salon.

“I just want everything to be as sterile as possible and I want to avoid any chance of contamination,” she said.

As circumstances change and the threat becomes less pronounced, Hemaidan said the salon would transition to a yellow phase and ultimately a green phase.

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“We’re calling this the ‘now normal,’” she said. “And as things change, we’ll change.”

Other salons also are taking added precautions as they prepare to open.

“We’ve been preparing for this for six weeks,” said Jerry Akers, owner of 17 Great Clips locations in Eastern Iowa and Nebraska. “We’ve got all our PPE and preparations pretty much ready to go.”

About 70 percent of the Iowa locations will reopen Friday, Akers said. The others will remain closed as Akers said about 20 to 30 percent of the salon chain’s roughly 200 employees have expressed concerns about returning to work.

When they are ready to return, Akers said, the rest of the stores will open — likely in the next couple weeks.

Unlike many other salon owners, Akers already gone through the process of reopening: The chain’s Nebraska locations opened over the past 10 days.

“We haven’t had many problems,” he said. “Our clients have been very aware of the situation, and most of the time they are already taking extensive precautions on their own.”

Akers said employees will be required to wear masks, and face shields are also available. All flat surfaces will be wiped down and sanitized often.

Similarly, Kelsey Freshour, owner of Moods Salon and Spa at 905 Third St. SE in downtown Cedar Rapids, said the she and her employees have spent weeks getting ready to reopen.

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“We’ve spent the last several weeks cleaning and rearranging our space to accommodate the social distancing requirements, and we’ve eliminated our relaxation room and waiting areas,” she said.

Clients there, too, will be asked to come alone and wait in their cars until a stylist is ready.

“We are also spacing out our appointments more to give stylists the time to sanitize their stations, chair and tools, and clients will get their service and check out at that stylist’s station — our front desk will be closed,” Freshour said.

Moods will open Saturday for haircuts and hair coloring. Other services such as manicures and pedicures, massages and facials, she said, are not certain yet.

“It really is going to depend on what my employees are comfortable with,” she said. “If a stylists or a cosmetologist is not comfortable coming back to work yet, I’m not going to force them.”

Stephanie Swenka-Seckle, co-owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa at 2771 Oakdale Blvd. in Coralville, is also taking precautions.

Skin Deep will reopen Friday, she said. Staff and guests will be required to wear masks, and like at other salons, clients will be asked to wait in their cars until the stylists is ready.

Only four of the eight stylist stations in the main area will be used per shift to accommodate social distancing.

Swenka-Seckle said not all of the spa’s services will be available right away, but added she believes manicures, massages and lash extensions will be offered.

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“It’s going to be different, and I’m sure some people are going to be nervous about coming back,” she said. “But we’re also really excited to see our people again.”

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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