‘It’s my livelihood’: Hair stylists relieved to reopen doors

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich, (WOOD) — After more than three months in limbo, salons and barber shops across Michigan reopened Monday morning. 

In March, as the state’s COVID-19 outbreak was on the rise, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the closure of a slew of businesses, including retail shops, movie theaters, gyms and salons. While several sectors of the economy are still waiting on the green light from the state, salons were permitted to reopen Monday.

“I actually have a lot of ladies that were more excited about getting a rinse to cover up the grays. I had to order a ton of color,” salon owner Joanne Riley said as she stood next to a client at the shampooing bowl. 

Riley, who is the owner of Team Healthy Hair salon on Lake Eastbrook Drive in Grand Rapids, is now taking temperatures at the door and separating her clients into different rooms to maintain social distancing.

She said during the shutdown, her only source of income was her product line.

“It’s my livelihood and if I don’t work, then I don’t get paid, and so I’m very passionate about and grateful that I love what I do,” Riley said.

Salon owners say while they were able to get some rest during their time off, the lack of income put their businesses in jeopardy. 

“We were just wondering how long is it going to take? Were they really going to make us wait until the end of the phase? And how were we going to survive because unemployment wasn’t coming through. The PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) for the business owners was backed up. It was miserable,” Demarcus Baty said as he took a pair of clippers to a client’s hairline. 

Baty owns the Designer Dugout in Rogers Plaza in Wyoming. He said in order to reopen, his stylists had to take an online course on health safety practices.

He also installed several measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Designer Dugout now has sneeze guards and stylists wear face shields, in addition to the latex gloves they wore before the pandemic.

The shop also eliminated its waiting room and is requiring all clients wear face masks.

“We’ll go through any precautions we have to to get back to our clients rather than sitting at home. We’ve had enough sitting at home,” Baty said.

The salon owners say while the new precautions will take some getting used to, they’re happy to get back to what they love.

  

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