Did you really experience the wrath of quarantine if you didn’t cut your own bangs, use a poly gel nail set, or accidentally graze yourself with hair clippers? Nail salons, hair parlors, spas and barbershops across New Jersey have been closed for months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, leaving clients to maintain their own grooming.

From at-home waxing kits and eyelash extension tutorials, to diy haircuts, pedicures and manicures, the internet has been filled with tips and tricks on how to pamper at home. Some grew so upset at the length of business closures that they rallied against it, demanding the reopenings of their local beauty shops. 

Tricia DiFranco, owner and stylist of Hilights Salon in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, told Scriberr News that her salon lost over $500,000 in revenue since it’s closing. The salon closed before the state mandate, in fear of the virus’ spread. However, she looks forward to getting back into the swing of things. 

“Our industry is comprised of majority women. I am grateful that the government released the regulations that they did, and that daycare is open to help our mothers as well,” DiFranco told Scriberr News. “We are excited to get back to doing what we love and making people feel beautiful.”

Fortunately, New Jersey salons and other personal care businesses are set to reopen on June 22. This is a segment of Stage 2 of 3 in the plan to reopen the state, since the March 17 closure mandate was implemented. Stage 2 officially began on June 15 with the restricted reopening of non-essential retail businesses, outdoor dining spaces, and child-care facilities. 

According to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s reopening plan, there are clear rules and regulations to be met by these shops as they see clients, which include but are not limited to: appointment-only services, at-entry temperature checks, the continual use of face masks, and social distancing maintenance between pairs of stylists and clients. 

Regardless of the enforcements placed, shop owners and stylists are prepared to comply, ensuring safety for both clients and themselves.

Kevin Kane, manager and stylist at Great Clips in Lodi, New Jersey, said he felt lucky to have received the paycheck protection program funds (PPP) for the business’ employees. His shop took out an additional small interest loan to pay property rent and stay afloat. 

Although he was grateful that the closures gave him the ability to spend time with his family, he understood the public push for businesses to reopen.

“I feel like a lot of stylists want to go back to work because they still haven’t gotten unemployment, or it took a really long time to get,” Kane told Scriberr News. 

“If you notice, a lot of the people doing the protest to reopen were the salon owners, mainly because most of them are not the ones being thrown into the fire. The stylists like myself have to be in close contact with the clients. Thank God they put very strict guidelines in place to protect us from getting sick, and hopefully all salons follow them,” said Kane.

As a former examiner for the cosmetology state board, Kane grasps the importance of the new regulations.

“(There will be) dividers at all the stations, mandatory masks, a ton of disinfecting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We are really trying to do everything we can, and at this point, it will be safer to get a haircut than to walk through your local department or grocery store,” said Kane.

Over at Hoboken, New Jersey’s Spesh Salon & Barbershop, owner and stylist Steven Torres has gone as far as creating a shop disclaimer for clients to have in advance. Torres’s shop has been closed for four months so far. He calls the ordeal “devastating”, but is glad he and his staff have remained healthy. 

The shop has discontinued serving refreshments and placed ‘standing spots’ in and outside of the salon to adhere to social distancing. Along with designated cleaning times, Spesh switched to genderless styling, where clients can book a ‘short, medium, or long’ cut instead of opting for a ‘male’ or ‘female’ cut. 

Although strategies have been put in place for the public to slowly transition out of lockdown,  it will be quite some time before people are able to fully return to their old lifestyles and habits. Stage 3, the final step of the reopening plan, which will include expanded dining, in-office work, and limited-capacity bars and entertainment, has not been set with a date yet. 

In the meantime, as people adjust to the restricted ‘new normal,’ there will likely be some form of relief as businesses flourish with the promise of clients, who can begin to look and feel like themselves again. 

To visit the salons mentioned, click the links below. 

Spesh Salon and Barbershop

Visit Great Clips Lodi location

Hilights Salon

Written ByYayonah Bangura

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