Local hairstylists say they are glad to be back at work, but their daily routines are much different than before the coronavirus pandemic.

Hairstylists and barbers were issued a six-page checklist that includes dozens of new requirements and reiterates others already required for existing licenses.

Among other things, salon operators must require all employees working on customers to use a protective face mask, not just a cloth face covering. They must wear protective gloves and change them between each client. The guidelines also recommend face shields for workers as well and requires that clients also wear face masks, sanitize everything in sight several times a day, make sure there are no books or magazines for clients to touch and require clients remain in their vehicles until summoned for their appointments.  Only pre-scheduled appointments are allowed and clients are screened ahead of time with a list of specific health-related questions.

“It’s different, that’s for sure,” said William Dangler, owner of People’s Salon & Spa on Temple Street in Waterville. “We spread out our schedules so everyone gets an opportunity to work because everyone can’t work at the same time. So we’re doing it, but hopefully this doesn’t go on forever.”

Dangler said clients who have health concerns, or their spouses have health issues, are not quick to make appointments.

“Some are definitely waiting it out to see how this month goes,” he said.

Not as many clients are being scheduled because the number of people allowed in the salon at one time is limited. Once inside, they must keep their belongings with them. No one is allowed in a waiting area.

“It’s a learning curve for everybody, for clients as well as staff,” Dangler said.

Yvette Frazier, hairstylist at The Bright Side Salon on Main Street in Skowhegan, said it was exciting to be back at work Friday, and the day before that, she had to come in and sanitize her entire room.

“Everything had to be nice and clean and tidy,” she said. “Wearing a mask is not fun. It’s OK. I’ve got asthma, so at times I have to take it off a little bit.”

Like Dangler, Frazier said she works on fewer clients than before. Prior to the rule changes, they could color a client’s hair and let that process while cutting another client’s hair.

“We can’t do that anymore because we have to sanitize, even down to the scissors,” Frazier said. “Everything has to be wiped down, the shampoo bottles — everything.”

Frazier, who has been doing hair for 27 years, said she “missed her clients terribly. I missed them and they missed me.”

She said she is holding off for now on scheduling her clients who are in their 80s.

“I’m waiting until phase three to have them come in,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them.”

Attitudes owner and stylist Laurie Laliberte styles Laura Flood’s hair at the Winslow salon Monday. Flood is from Clinton. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Laurie Laliberte, owner of Attitudes Hair and Nail Salon on Cushman Road in Winslow, said she closed her salon March 24 and reopened Friday after Gov. Janet Mills announced earlier in the week that salons could open with restrictions.

“It’s going good,” Laliberte said Monday. “The phones haven’t been ringing as much. Some people are waiting.”

Like Dangler and Frazier, Laliberte said hairstylists must sanitize chairs, stools, shampooing bowls and other items, and they and clients have to wear masks. Not only do clients wait in their cars until they are called in, but some also sit in their vehicles while their hair color processes, according to Laliberte.

One of the biggest difficulties, according to Laliberte, has been finding masks, gloves, sanitizer and cleaning products.

“You have to go to four or five different places to try to find what you need,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Making matters worse, she said, she and those who rent booths in her salon have been trying to get unemployment benefits but can not get through on the state’s website.

“I haven’t even been able to sign up because it keeps crashing,” Laliberte said. “It’s been really hard because a lot of stylists are not able to get unemployment.”

Laliberte, who has been doing hair for 32 years, said clients are happy to be back and missed coming into her salon.

“It’s more for their mental health and wellness,” she said. “It makes them feel good about themselves. It’s the socialization that everybody misses.

“We have clients that are more like friends and they miss that contact with people. It’s very overwhelming, and it’s a struggle for a lot of people. They are just happy to get in here and get their hair done.”

Nail technicians are prohibited from going back to work until June 1, according to state rules.

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