GREENSBORO — Just when you were getting desperate enough to cut or color your hair yourself, now you can leave it to the professionals.
Starting tonight, barbershops and salons are allowed to be open for the first time since late March. They were among the nonessential businesses that Gov. Roy Cooper ordered to close as North Carolina tried to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
And for many of those businesses’ clients, the wait is finally over.
But when doors are allowed to open at 5 p.m. — as Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan goes into effect — it won’t exactly be business as usual, according to state health officials.
There will be limits on how many employees and customers can be together at the same time. Barbers and stylists will have to cover their faces. And, of course, there must be 6 feet of separation between groomers and the next chair.
That’s a concession Tiffany Benedict, owner of The Nerdy Colorist, is willing to make. She has four stylists and will alternate them daily so she is in accordance with the state’s restrictions.
“It’s definitely going to put a damper on how we operate, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Benedict said.
Bradley Tuggle of James Bradley Salon in Jamestown said his six stylists will be spaced the obligatory 6 feet away from each other.
“No more having one client wait for a color process while another gets styled,” Tuggle said.
James Butler Sr., who runs Butler’s Personal Touch Barber Shop on Freeman Mill Road with son James Jr., will have his four barbers working at every other chair.
And, sorry, don’t count on getting a shave at the shop.
“We can shape the beard and cut the beard off with the clippers. But laying the person down, face to face, that type of thing ... we’re going to eliminate that for a while,” Butler said.
Barbershops and salons also will be required by the state to do a lot of extra cleaning, which is already part of their daily operations.
“People don’t know that sanitation is what we learn before we pick up a comb or clippers,” said Kenny Kallam, the owner of Boho Salon in downtown.
Kallam said he plans to take sanitation even further. He said he has contracted with Cintas, a company that provides uniforms and cleaners to businesses, to purchase premium-grade cleaning supplies — such as a doormat designed to kill bacteria on shoes.
Kallam said he also plans to use ultraviolet light to clean instruments and chairs, a disinfecting method used by hospitals.
“I want to take my sanitation to the tenth level,” Kallam said.
At James Bradley Salon, there will be shampoo stations with clear plastic shields.
Benedict is using disposable capes and towels at The Nerdy Colorist.
“They are an added layer of protection for my staff and myself,” she said.
Despite his extraordinary efforts to maintain cleanliness, Kallam admits he doesn’t intend to cover his face despite the state mandate — and won’t require his employees to do so, either.
While state health officials aren’t mandating that customers cover their faces, the businesses contacted for this story will require them to do so and provide a mask if necessary.
All of the extra precautions mean the wait for a cut or color will be a little longer and, most likely, from inside your car.
“Hopefully everyone will be patient with us,” Tuggle said. “We’re going to be super busy and we gotta take our time.”