Orlando Sentinel covers reopening of salons in Orange County
MAY 11, 2020
More than six weeks after Orange County ordered all “nonessential” businesses to shut down, barbershops and hair salons on Monday welcomed clients itching to trim and color their growing locks.
A new executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday gave the green-light to barbers, hair salons, nail technicians, facialists and other cosmetologists to reopen as part of the state’s phasing-in approach to restart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The order required salons to take customers by appointment only, remove magazines and decor from waiting areas and that employees wear masks while dealing with customers.
For those professionals who have moved away from traditional salon setups, where one salon might include upwards of 30 stations, the transition has been a little easier.
At College Park’s iStudio Salons, just one example of the growing trend of independent salon owners to operate out of a shared space, clients were seen one at a time in walled-off suites. In the lobby, the couches and tables had been taken out and hand sanitizer stations had been installed. The whole facility, added manager of operations Michael Foster, had also been cleaned with a special disinfectant.
Marquis Hayles, known by his industry name “The Presidential Barber,” wore a blue medical mask and black gloves as he ran a set of clippers through his client’s hair. Like most of Hayles’ clients, this one was a regular, which put his mind at ease.
“I trust that he has been responsible before he came here,” he said. But “in a situation like this, it can be nerve-wracking. If it was a traditional barbershop, I probably wouldn’t have come back today.”
A few stations over, Priscilla Lasalle and Idenise Rodriguez, who just recently moved into iStudio, massaged blond dye into Barbara Looby-Carbonara’s hair. She’s been a regular of theirs for four years.
“I’m excited,” Lasalle said. “It feels good to be able to see my clients.”
“Knowing it’s the two of them,” Looby-Carbonara replied, “I knew I would be protected.”
The announcement from DeSantis to reopen salons came after members of Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings’ Economic Recovery Task Force said they were “disappointed” that DeSantis’ initial order allowing shops and restaurants to reopen with limited capacity did not include salons and barbershops.
On May 2, DeSantis visited OhSoooJazzy Hair Salon on Old Winter Garden Road to meet with Demings and local salon owners, including the owner of J Henry’s Barber Shop, John Henry, who sat on Demings’ task force. They urged him to let salons reopen, citing the strict state health requirements they already follow.
“Those are things that we do naturally,” Lasalle said of the requirements under the executive order.
Task force members also warned that those small-business owners of barbershops and nail salons may not be able to survive more weeks without customers.
“We are ready to get back to work and make some money,” Henry said in a video message posted to DeSantis’ Twitter feed.
Chain salons appeared to be busy Monday afternoon, while others remained closed. Great Clips’ website showed wait times of more than two hours. Calls to Hair Cuttery, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April and blamed the COVID-19 outbreak for millions of dollars in missed pay and benefits for employees, were answered by a recording from the salon’s parent company, saying locations would open “as soon as we can.”
Other salons held off opening Monday, some out of fear that the governor’s order was premature and others needing more time to clean and prepare. In the Orlando area, Floyd’s 99 Barbershop locations, BT’s Men’s Barbershop and Urban Stylez said they planned to open later this week.
Carlos Solorzano, who’s also known by Carlos The Barber, said he’ll reopen his shop inside downtown Orlando’s Members Only Chop Shop Tuesday morning. He spent Monday deep-cleaning.
“We decided to take the day to make sure everything’s spotless,” he said. “We’ve got to take precautions first … making sure everybody’s comfortable.”
But admittedly, there’s still some anxiety.
“With this pandemic, unfortunately, we don’t know what’s coming through the door,” Solorzano said. “I’m excited, but then again, what if we have a carrier who walks in? What are the chances of someone getting sick? What if they’ve been out of the country?
“I’m a little nervous, but you know what, you can’t be scared.”
Email the reporter at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @bycarolineglenn.