The COVID-19 hairdo will soon be a thing of the past for people in many California counties. But how some salons and barber shops reopen in Sacramento could look different than in nearby counties.
Barbers and stylists in the city say their appointment books are filling rapidly since reopening this week after the state of California eased stay-at-home restrictions.
Torrence Washington rents a space at Sola Salon Studios on Capitol Mall for his Immaculate Cuts Barbershop. He wears a mask and disinfects the shop after every customer.
“People are still dying today, right now,” Washington said. He says he hopes to limit the spread of the virus by sanitizing and requiring masks in his shop.
“Even though we take precautions, the disease is still lurking around. I’d rather be safe than sorry,” he said.
Damareay Walker was a customer on Thursday and said he’s glad to be able to entrust a professional with his head of hair again. The woman he had been going to was not well-trained, he says.
“Too rough on my head,” he said.
In a separate space across the hallway, Barbara Mahle was thrilled to be reunited with old friend and stylist Jamie Caballes.
“I’ve been chopping at my own hair,” Mahle admitted.
How was the do-it-yourself approach going?
“Not good. Look at her,” Caballes said. Both women laughed.
Mahle says she appreciates the service and also the pains her friend is taking to avoid spreading disease — which she says doesn’t happen at all salons.
“You have to be cautious for now, until they find out everything they need to know” about the virus, Caballas said. “I’m just happy to be back at work, and I want to stay here for awhile.”
There was a very different vibe among customers at Butte House Barbershop in Yuba City. Some people followed the county’s six feet of separation rule. On Wednesday, neither customers nor staff were wearing masks.
Wes Heryford owns the place and says business has been great since the health department allowed him to reopen on May 4. Those orders ran contrary to the state orders at the time. He says the threat from the virus is minimal.
“I think it’s been safe for people to go back to work,” he said.
Customer John Bobis is 79 with a head full of white hair. He says his wife liked his curls after two months, but he didn’t. From now on, he plans to drive to Yuba City from his home in Rancho Murieta.
“I have a lady who’s been cutting my hair for 20-something years. She’s terrified of the coronavirus. I doubt she’ll ever open back up,” Bobis said.
He said the virus is a “very serious thing” but didn’t see the need for a mask, though state guidelines state that “workers and customers must use face coverings” during haircuts and stylings.
Back at Immaculate Cuts in Sacramento, customer Walker says it’s not a problem to wear a mask and he agrees with the state that it’s risky for a barber to not wear one.
“That’s not safe. That’s too close of a contact. You gotta still touch his head to move his head and your other hand is still touching his body by his face,” Walker said. He then expressed concern for Bobis given his age. “He’s an elder and it attacks them the hardest. That wasn’t a smart move.”
Heryford said anyone who wants to wear a mask in his shop can, but he won’t require it, even though state guidelines say otherwise, and that he’s supposed to notify potential clients who call be phone and post signs at the door. He said it’s a customer’s right to choose.
“Either come in or don’t come in. Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask. I don’t care personally. Your choice,” he said.
These are all things for Jill Cromwell to consider as she works to reopen her Maribou Salon in Folsom.
The clipping and rinsing has not yet begun at her Sutter Street location, even with the state of California and county of Sacramento’s blessing. But on Monday, there will likely be the buzz of clippers and conversation as stylists and customers reunite.
“We are currently moving all of our salon chairs and everything so that everybody can social distance and be six feet apart,” Cromwell said. “We are ordering our thermometers so we can check everybody in. We are disinfecting to make sure everything is clean and we have face masks ready to go for our staff and customers.”
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