Personal services cautiously reopen

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Salons, spas, pet services among those allowed to resume in Ouray County

  • Salon Monti owner Kendra Manley performs a hair coloring for Ridgway resident Marti O’Leary at the salon at 824 Main St. in Ouray on Tuesday. Salon Monti reopened on Monday with strict standards in place. Customers must wait in their car for their appointment, have their temperature taken and wear a mask. Mike Wiggins — Ouray County Plaindealer
    Salon Monti owner Kendra Manley performs a hair coloring for Ridgway resident Marti O’Leary at the salon at 824 Main St. in Ouray on Tuesday. Salon Monti reopened on Monday with strict standards in place. Customers must wait in their car for their appointment, have their temperature taken and wear a mask. Mike Wiggins — Ouray County Plaindealer
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On May 1, when state officials announced that personal service businesses in Colorado could reopen their doors, the news was met with mixed feelings, even from those in the business. For Kendra Manley, owner of Salon Monti in Ouray, it was an “emotional roller coaster” filled with some anxiety and an abundance of caution.

Although businesses were allowed to officially open that Friday, Manley and her two stylists decided to postpone their own opening to May 4. This gave them time to deep clean the salon, move their stations to be the required six feet apart and come up with a game plan on how they could safely serve their clients.

“It’s kind of bittersweet. We were ready to open, but not ready to open,” Manley said. “Whether we feel it’s safe or not, we’re still coming in to service our clients.”

She added that the three of them considered postponing their opening even longer, but started to feel pressure from clients once the state issued the okay for businesses to open.

Businesses like hair salons must follow a strict set of regulations to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, or risk having their licenses revoked. Requirements from the state include wearing masks and gloves for both customers and employees, as well as taking clients’ temperatures before they are allowed in the building. Any businesses found to not follow the regulations could be fined and shut down.

For salons in particular, there are regulations about cleaning equipment and what has to be washed or sanitized after every use. Sharra King, a stylist at Salon Monti, said Manley had to order new capes and other supplies in order to get ready to reopen.

To ensure they are following the regulation of having fewer than io people in a room at a time, which is still a state public health order limiting mass gatherings, Salon Monti clients will need to wait in their car until their appointments. Before coronavirus, King said she would often work with multiple clients at once, cutting one’s hair while hair dye was setting on another. The salon will no longer be doing that, she said, and each stylist will only work with one client at a time.

On Monday, King had seven clients for her first day back. Because they are following regulations and working with one client at a time, she’s booked out until June and it’s taking longer than usual to get appointmenta in. She also said clients shouldn’t feel rushed to come in.

“For the ones who aren’t ready, I get it. It’s scary,” she said.

The stylists are also asking clients to bring their own thermometers to check their temperatures in their car before entering the salon. Manley said she has ordered some of the no-touch ones, but they are on backorder due to high demand.

A resident also donated fabric masks to the salon. Manley said they will be available to customers who forget to wear a mask for their appointment. These are available for a sio donation that will go toward the Good Neighbor Fund, which helps Ouray County residents who need financial assistance.

King said the run-throughs she did with Manley and Libby Tener before opening helped the three stylists to see exactly what steps they needed to take to make sure they were following regulations and keeping people safe. She also added that in order to get a license in Colorado, it’s not about giving a good haircut, it’s about proving you know the safety and sanitation rules.

There are some extra new steps with need to follow, such as sanitizing pens and wiping down chairs after every use. But after spending nearly five hours in the salon before opening, King said the three of them have the new procedures down like clockwork.

In some ways it’s the new norm, and it feels kind of good to make sure we’re doing it the right way,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt to wipe these chairs down every once in a while.”

Manley said they have posted all of the new requirements on their social media pages so their clients can see them before scheduling an appointment. She also said their scheduling software also allows her to send out mass texts and emails to clients as well. She’s already had to cancel some appointments with clients because they had just returned from traveling and could not guarantee they hadn’t been exposed to the virus.

But Manley said she has other concerns as well, namely with clients who may not want to wear a mask.

“My biggest fear is someone coming in and being upset about being uncomfortable,” Manley said.

Both she and King said the rules are in place to protect not only them as employees, but all clients coming in to the salon. Manley added that before opening the three stylists decided they need to be united and firm on following the regulations.

For Manley, the stakes of going back to work were high. She had a friend who was hospitalized with coronavirus. Since her husband is diabetic, he also falls into the at-risk category. She said she is concerned about possibly bringing the virus home to him.

"Our health comes before money, that’s what’s been the hard part to decide to reopen,” she said. “It’s a lot more stress on us than people realize.”