TALLAHASSEE — Barber shops and salons can reopen in most of Florida next week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday in a significant alteration to his reopening plans.
Shops in any county operating the governor’s Phase 1 program will be allowed to reopen. By Monday, that will be all counties but Broward and Miami-Dade.
DeSantis made the announcement in a tweet on Friday, following Florida’s deadliest week yet in the COVID-19 pandemic. The afternoon tweet featured the owner of an Orlando barber shop DeSantis visited last Saturday.
Reopening barber shops and salons was not originally in the first part of DeSantis’ three-phase plan to reopen the state. Phase 1, which allowed restaurants and shops to open at 25 percent indoor capacity, started Monday.
Barber shops will have to obey “enhanced safety protocols,” DeSantis’ tweet states.
He clarified what that meant a day later, on Saturday, in another tweet.
Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the White House have provided guidelines for managers of salons and barber shops. Florida’s task force to reopen the state suggested the businesses “consider” requiring employees wear masks, regularly wiping down stations and having customers wait outside before appointments.
Friday’s announcement was met with hesitation by one salon owner. Erin Childs, who runs CoLab Salon in St. Petersburg, had ordered special cleaning and air filtration equipment in anticipation of the eventual reopening.
“I don’t really know how I can run my business right now because I don’t know what those guidelines are,” Childs said.
Childs said she had even gone so far as to schedule COVID-19 tests for herself and her staff next week. But those results could take a few days to get back, and she said she wouldn’t reopen until she has the results.
It was unclear Friday whether she would be allowed to open in St. Petersburg anyway. Earlier this week, Mayor Rick Kriseman said he would reject any “irresponsible” orders allowing businesses to reopen from Gov. DeSantis. A spokesman for Kriseman said the mayor would withhold comment until he sees the governor’s order.
Some safety protocols should be issued, considering that barber shops and salons have "more intimate and prolonged contact between two people,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, director of the Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice at the University of South Florida.
“When you have that much uncertainty, you at least want to provide some guidelines,” Levine said.
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Because of that continuous physical contact between employees and patrons, hair salons and barber shops have been a key focal point to how states have closed down and have now begun to reopen.
A Dallas hair salon owner became a Lone Star State folk hero to some when she was jailed for defying a statewide stay-at-home order. The subsequent public backlash convinced Gov. Greg Abbott to modify his order, prohibiting local officials from jailing Texans for violations.
Georgia drew national attention when it reopened hair salons, gyms and bowling alleys on April 24, sparking widespread condemnation from public health experts that it was doing so prematurely.
Both states had an extensive list of safety protocols for businesses to follow upon their return.
Georgia’s guidelines include requiring employees wear masks at all times, and they recommend employees wear face shields and gloves and drape customers in clean capes, among other protocols.
Texas allowed hair salons, nail salons, tanning salons and barber shops to reopen Friday, but the state issued four-page checklists with instructions on how to reopen safely. Those checklists say the barber shops and hair salons should, among other things:
- Stick to less time-consuming services, such as shaves and haircuts
- Maintain six-feet social distancing between others
- Require customers wash their hands upon entering and before each treatment
- Request walk-in clients wait either in their own cars or outside with at least six feet separation between them
- Not allow customers bring extra people to the appointment, such as children
- Post signs at the entrance to the salon with a phone number that clients should call to schedule an appointment when they arrive
- Screen employees for temperatures and require they sign waivers stating they understand the protocols
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