Some of those rules include limiting one customer per stylist unless the individual is waiting for service, using an appointment-only system, maintaining 6 feet of separation between stations, and ensuring both the stylist and customer wear face masks. For a comprehensive list of new requirements for each of these types of businesses and their clients, click here.
"One of the apprehensions and concerns about opening up barber shops and hair salons and similar types of businesses was the fact that people operating the business as well as the customer—they're very close to each other as that service is provided," Abbott said during the May 5 press conference. "The only safe way that you can go about providing this service, while ensuring that we're doing everything possible to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, would be for both the person providing the service and the customer to wear face masks."
Salons were not on Abbott’s list of businesses, such as restaurants and retail stores, allowed to open May 1. On April 27, he said additional businesses would not be permitted to open until May 18, so the May 5 announcement took many by surprise.
Gino Hernandez owns two local salons—Salons at Stone Gate at 11734 Barker Cypress Road, Ste. 111, Cypress, and The Factory Salon, 10920 Fry Road, Ste. 450, Cypress—which will be reopening May 8 for the first time since late March.
“This is catching us all by surprise because we were all planning on the 18th, and then this announcement happened,” Hernandez said in a May 6 phone interview. “We’ve been working the phones all day. ... We’re cleaning the salon from head to toe; we’re making sure everyone has their safety masks. We have completely new procedures now.”
Additionally, the two salons are removing waiting room furniture and instead alerting customers via text when their stylist is ready for them. Blow-drying services are on hold for the time being, and customers can even wear a special cap that enables them to drive home and rinse hair dye themselves to limit their time in the salon.
Hernandez said although services over the next few weeks will be unlike the traditional salon experience, clients are ready to come back.
During the closure, both salon locations offered at-home coloring kits and retail products for curbside pickup and delivery, and Hernandez said this service will continue for those who are not yet comfortable coming into the salon.
“It’s a different market than the market we saw two months ago, so now we’re ... [rethinking] what the salon customer experience is,” he said.
For Charlene Ortiz, who has rented a space at the Salons at Rock Creek on Spring Cypress Road for her business, CROPS’s Hair Styling, for nearly seven years, getting back in the salon could not have come soon enough.
“I feel like I’m going through all my savings to live and to rent a room that I don’t have access to,” she said in a May 4 phone interview prior to Abbott’s announcement. “I just want to get back to work. It’s been very demeaning as a person to be considered nonessential.”
Ortiz’s salon is one room, and she has always accommodated one customer at a time. Hair stylists in Texas have always been required to meet high sanitation standards, so she said she thought it was unfair that businesses such as malls and movie theaters were able to open their doors before salons.
Based on feedback from her clients during the closure, Ortiz said she is not worried about returning to an empty salon. Customers and stylists alike are eager to return for the most part, she said.
“I know there are some who think that they shouldn’t go back, but I think there’s a majority who wants to go back, who need to go back,” she said. “This is our livelihood.”