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Chapel Hill salons grapple with reopening safely in the first week of Phase 2

DTH Photo Illustration - A young woman shows off her pink dyed hair.

After months of no business and no haircuts, some salons and barber shops are finally opening their doors under Phase 2 of Gov. Roy Cooper's coronavirus reopening plan.

Phase 2 became effective on May 22 at 5 p.m. However, many salons and barbershops in Chapel Hill waited until after Memorial Day to open to the public, and others are not opening until early June. 

Ashley Nandi, manager of Citrine Salon, said the salon has been closed since March 22 and has only been doing some curbside pickup of hair products they carry in-store to help clients while they are home. 

Nandi said when Phase 2 was announced, staff made sure to speak to salons in the area as well in states that have already opened to find the safest ways to reopen.

"We have been very diligent of making sure that every precaution is in place," Nandi said, "Everything from masks to plexiglass dividers to sanitizing every 15 minutes." 

Legacy Cuts Barber Shop has been closed since March 26 and hasn't been able to generate any revenue prior to reopening on May 26. However, Marilyn Chaplin, the owner of the shop, said she believes salons and barbershops may be opening too soon. 

"Health is a whole lot more important than a haircut," Chaplin said. "I understand that I'm not working, but I also can't work if I'm dead." 

Legacy Cuts currently has a "no mask, no entry" rule. Other precautions include having customers wash their hands upon arrival, only allowing three customers inside at a time, asking customers to reschedule if they feel ill and not allowing customers to arrive with friends or family.

"Barbershops are a place of gathering," Chaplin said. "But if you're not getting a haircut, you can't hang around."

Chaplin said she wished the state would announce guidelines for salons to follow instead of having to make her own.

"My biggest concern right now is that we don't have any leadership and it's very scary," Chaplin said. "A lot of my clients are older, so I'm just scared to death for them to come out of this mess."

Matt Gladdek, the executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said in addition to state mandates, salons in Chapel Hill are instituting different safety precautions based on their own judgment and preferences.

David Sutton, owner of the salon and wine shop DB Sutton & Company, said the shop has not been providing haircuts since March 17, before the state-mandated closure. However, since liquor and wine stores were considered essential businesses during the initial stay-at-home order, they were able to keep their doors open.

DB Sutton & Co. currently only has two stylists working at a time and asks them to wear face masks and face shields. Other precautions include taking clients temperatures before they come in, asking them to wash their hands, wear face masks and sitting in booths 10-20 feet apart. 

As North Carolina transitioned out of Phase 1 of reopening, Sutton said he was expecting for the salon to reopen, but not without understanding the risks. 

"It puts our lives at stake to have to do it," Sutton said. "So when Phase 2 came, I knew that it was coming and I knew that at some point you do have to do something."

Some salons and barbershops anticipate opening in the first week of June. 

Gladdek said these salons may be taking the time to prepare safety measures as well as observe how other shops are doing and respond to demand. 

"I'm cautiously optimistic that in spite of the severe impact that COVID has had on salons, that they should all reopen," Gladdek said. 

@DTHCityState |

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