Business as normal—not quite

FULLY PROTECTED – Jennifer Crutchfield, owner of The Works beauty salon in Humboldt, is following COVID guidelines in order to protect the staff and customers. Crutchfield and her staff must use clean capes for each customer, wear gloves, face masks and eye protection. Customer Linda Sampson wears a mask, as do all visitors to the salon, according to state procedures.

by Danny Wade

When COVID-19 hit pandemic status, federal, state and local leaders acted firmly to help stop the spread. Unfortunately, the means to fight the spread of coronavirus put a major hurting on many small businesses.

Even when restrictions began to be lifted for some, the guidelines for others did not change. One profession that was hit the hardest was beauty salons. It is impossible to social distance while cutting hair or giving manicures or pedicures.

Jennifer Crutchfield, owner and operator of The Works, said the pandemic has put a hardship on her and the staff.

“We closed March 27,” said Crutchfield, when mandates came down from Governor Bill Lee. “We reopened May 6 but not to full capacity.”

A week or two prior to reopening, restrictions began being lifted and it was announced that hair salons could open, only to be rescinded a couple of days later. With the guidelines were eased, salons across the state began scheduling appointments, only to turning right around and having to cancel them.

Even now that salons have been open for about three week, it is still not business as usual. Crutchfield said they have to follow strict guidelines in order to open. And these guidelines cut into the number of patrons seen each day.

“We have to take temps of everyone entering (the salon),” Crutchfield stated. “They (customers) have to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands before entering. We (staff) have to wear clean capes, clean masks and gloves, and new gloves with each customer. Every customer has to use a clean cape and wear a mask too.”

Between customers, every surface has to be wiped down and sanitized, which takes 15 minutes. The entire shop must be cleaned every two hours. Crutchfield said she and her staff take turns cleaning. With all the extra precautions, cleaning and sanitizing, The Works is operating at about 60- to 65-percent per day of what a normal day would have been prior to the corona crisis.

“It’s cutting into our time and our money,” Crutchfield noted after being open for three week. “We’re still not able to get all our customers in for appointments. Everybody is playing catch-up at this point.”

CHECKING TEMPS – Hair stylist Tammy Roberson of The Works uses a touch-less temperature gauge to check Adele Griffin’s temperature at the entrance of the salon. Guidelines set forth by the CDC, state health department and Governor Bill Lee were recently relaxed allowing salons to open. All visitors are screened prior to entering the salon and are asked questions regarding COVID-19.

With all services by appointment, no walk-ins are allowed. Customers are not allowed to come inside until the stylist is ready to seat them. Once a customer walks through the door, staff uses a touch-less temperature gauge six inches from the customer’s face. If the reading is 100.5-degrees or more, they are not allowed into the shop. Staff also asks customers questions—if they’ve experienced a fever or cough, shortness of breath, if they have visited outside the state or have any symptoms of COVID-19. Only then will customers be allowed to enter.

Prior to the pandemic, Crutchfield had planned to renovate the salon. Days before they were to reopen, the floors had been freshly painted. That was when the hailstorm and massive rains hit. The back room of the salon had standing water in it before the paint had fully cured. They had to dry everything out and repaint a second time.

Crutchfield first opened The Works in October of 2007. She brought her long-time friend on staff, hair stylist Monica Lovell. A few years later, Tammy Roberson joined the staff. The most recent addition came when Heather Harrison began working at The Works. Between these four ladies, they have decades of experience in all hair care needs.

Crutchfield thanked all her customers, as well as the other stylists’ customers, for understanding the new guidelines that must be followed in order for the salon to remain open.

“Some don’t like to wear a mask—I don’t like wearing a mask,” Crutchfield chuckles of some of the ‘friendly’ complaints from a few customers. “I just tell them, it’s not our rules. We just have to follow what the state says we must do.”

Even though following the rules may be a pain, Crutchfield and her staff know these guidelines are for the safety of the staff and for the customers. It’s a small price to pay to remain safe and COVID free.

“Everybody is glad to be back at work,” Crutchfield said of her salon. “We’re handling it well.”

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