Kimberly Lelievre, a stylist at Kutters Hairstyling in Whitehorse, poses for a photo May 28 with the salon’s new COVID-19 precautions that will be place for its reopening on June 1. Businesses providing personal services such as hairstyling, tattooing, piercing, and other such services are getting set to reopen under new public health guidelines and altered business plans. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Spas, hair salons, tattoo parlours and more ready for reopening

Many personal services shops set June date to offically welcome back customers

Businesses providing personal services such as hairstyling, tattooing, piercing, and other such services are getting set to reopen under new public health guidelines and altered business plans due to COVID-19.

Those with approved reopening plans and proper protocols in place were able to officially open their doors May 27, but many are taking a little more time and advertising their official reopenings for June.

At the same time, they’re answering phone call after phone call from clients looking to swap out their “floppy hairdos” — as Premier Sandy Silver described during a COVID-19 update a few weeks earlier — in favour of a more coiffed look, or booking an appointment to get that tattoo or piercing they’ve been waiting to get.

It’s a reopening that comes with substantial changes for clients and staff alike at personal service businesses.

At Kutters Hairstyling, owner Melanie Graham said the waiting area has been removed, plexiglass barriers are in place and things have been shifted around to ensure health guidelines are met.

“It feels really empty in there,” she said, adding it is a good feeling to get back to business.

Similarly at Elements Hair Studio and Day Spa, owner Ammanda Partridge has been working to ensure the maximum of 10 staff and clients in the shop at any one time she’s set (under regulations she could have up to 15, but wants to keep it at 10 for now) are well-separated.

Both Elements and Kutters are set to officially reopen June 1.

Graham said she did have one client in May 27 just to make things will run smoothly.

Ammanda Partridge, Elements Hair Studio and Day Spa owner, poses in her salon with a face mask the estheticians will wear and some of the new signage in Whitehorse on May 28, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Wearing a mask to shampoo hair was different, but not an issue. Nor was it a major inconvenience for the client.

She acknowledged it will all take some getting used to.

Clients are now being asked to wait outside and only come in after they are waved in or receive a text letting them know they are welcome to come inside.

For that trial run, Graham found herself thinking her client was running late until she realized she was supposed to wave her in or send a text.

Putting on a mask as well, she realized she might be doing her makeup a little differently.

“Yeah, don’t need lipstick,” she said with a laugh.

With greater restrictions on the number of people that can be in the shop (the maximum at Kutters is 15 including staff and clients), staff hours have been shifted around as well with all but one stylist, who wanted to come back on a part-time basis only, able to work full-time hours.

While there was only a few days between personal service businesses being informed they could reopen provided they have an approved plan and the date they could submit a plan for approval, Graham said she has been keeping up to date on the efforts of the BC Beauty Council working with the B.C. provincial government there to come up with a reopening plan.

That meant she and others were ready with tentative operational plans before the Yukon guidelines were released.

Partridge said Graham and others in the industry were open in sharing information to come up with plans.

“We’re all united,” she said.

While she’s pleased to reopen, there was “very little communication” from the Yukon government ahead of the announcement.

“It’s been really frustrating,” she said. “It was really hard to prepare.”

While plexiglass dividers are not required, many — including both Partridge and Graham — ordered them as an additional measure. Elements order is late arriving, but they will be installed next week after they are here.

Keighlan Gustus, manager and piercer at Triple J’s Collective, poses in a piercing studio with their new COVID-19 friendly equipment, including a face make and a plastic face shield. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Graham estimates she’s spent between $8,000 and $10,000 getting her shop ready for reopening while Partridge says it’s cost her around $4,000 so far.

There’s also the little challenges along the way. Spray bottles, for example, haven’t been easy to find locally and they are needed for disinfectant cleaning at each station, Graham said. Previously, the shop had a couple of bottles that would be shared.

As Graham gets set to welcome customers back — and those who had cancelled appointments during the closure are getting first priority — she said nearly all customers are understanding the new protocols in place that they will have to follow, including wearing a mask, hand sanitizing and washing and waiting to be waved into their appointment among others.

“Ninety-eight per cent are amazing, patient and understanding,” she said. “I am so thankful.”

Partridge said it’s much the same for her customers, though staff are a little worried the experience won’t be as relaxing as it once was for clients. At the same time, everyone seems to understand reasons for the measures that are in place.

At said the shop is getting ready to welcome those looking for a piercing or tattoo back on June 8 with several measures in place.

Among them she said the studio will be limited to the client and the piercer or tattoo artist doing the work, and the client’s guardian if they are a minor.

All customers will have to book in advance and masks are required, hands must be sanitized upon entry and there’s limits on what they can bring into the shop. Gone are the days of bringing in snacks, a tablet and other such items if you’re getting a tattoo that may take a long time.

Gustus noted those getting extensive work done will be able to take a break and step out for a bit.

As with other personal service establishments, the phone’s been ringing for appointments and those who had appointments cancelled due to the shutdown are being given priority.

Officials at all three personal service establishments also noted staff have been provided with training to ensure the health and safety of clients.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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