Reopening Beauty Businesses Safely 101

As vaccinations begin across the U.S., many salons, barbers, and spas are eager to resume business and begin the process of rebuilding after the pandemic. Drip Hydration examines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for reopening beauty businesses such as spas, barbers, and salons safely, and what they mean for you.

Understanding how Covid-19 spreads

In order to effectively reduce transmission of the virus, you must first understand how it spreads. Covid-19 spreads primarily via respiratory droplets produced when a person speaks, sings, coughs, or sneezes. Droplets produced by infected people spread the virus when they are inhaled, or when people touch their eyes, nose, and/or mouth after touching a surface contaminated by droplets.

People who do not develop symptoms can still spread the virus, so it is important to be vigilant even if someone does not look sick.

Recommended guidance for reopening beauty businesses

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) created a system referred to as the Hierarchy of Controls, which is intended to illustrate best practices for keeping people safe despite occupational hazards. The CDC’s guidance for reopening beauty businesses applies this framework to salon and spa environments to guide them towards safe operations during the pandemic.

Engineering controls – altering the workspace

This step involves physical modifications to your salon and procedures to prevent exposure to Covid-19. Some concepts to consider are:

  • Take steps to ensure your space is properly ventilated
  • Encourage proper hygiene by setting up sanitation stations in high traffic areas
  • Encourage good habits through visual cues like floor decals, colored tape, and signage in both employee and client areas

Modify the layout of your workplace

  • Make sure there is at least 6 feet of space between workstations
  • Avoid setups requiring employees and others to face each other
  • Increase distance between clients and employees where possible, such as moving payment terminals farther away from the cashier
  • Create physical barriers between workers, and between workers and clients where possible by using strip curtains or similar partitions

Reduce opportunities for transmission by:

  • Discontinuing self-serve setups for complimentary refreshments
  • Implementing touchfree stations and technologies where possible
  • Limiting sharing of materials/common items like clipboards, pens, and touchscreens

Administrative controls – changing the way people work

The CDC offers the following for consideration as you draft your new policies for not only reopening your beauty business but maintaining healthy and safe operations to avoid a secondary closure:

  • Provide training and education: Ensure you and all your staff are trained on recognizing the symptoms of Covid-19, all Covid-related protocols and why they work, and proper cleaning and sanitation procedures.
  • Leave and home isolation policies: It is very important for workers to feel empowered to combat Covid-19. Employers should be certain that policies are as flexible as possible, and not punitive to people who self-report since people may be less willing to report symptoms if they are concerned about their positions.
  • Strong communication: Designate someone from the salon to be an on-site workplace coordinator for Covid-19 assessment and control. Make sure all staff know who this person is, and how to contact them with questions or concerns. When drafting policies to address Covid-related risks, be certain to involve all workers at all levels to ensure all issues are identified and resolved with practical solutions.
  • If someone is sick: Policy should dictate that any person who develops symptoms in the salon is immediately separated from everyone else and has a private transport home or to a medical care facility. Workers who were within 6 feet of the person during that time should be considered exposed and follow CDC guidelines for what to do if you are sick. If an employee develops symptoms or finds out they were exposed while at home, they should stay home and follow self-isolation guidelines. The workstation of the person sick or exposed should be thoroughly sanitized. Make sure your policies for staff to return to work are in line with CDC recommendations.

Guidance for employees and independent beauty services providers

Workplace and policy changes are crucial towards safely reopening beauty businesses, but they can only do so much without being proactive about sanitation and hygiene. Drip Hydration will now review some highlights from the industry-specific CDC guidelines for beauty professionals:

  • Enhanced sanitation: Be sure to pay special attention to the following areas when creating your cleaning checklist:
    • Furniture, equipment, tools, and workstations should be sanitized between each client; be sure to allow yourself extra time for cleaning when scheduling
    • High-touch surfaces like counters, doorknobs, etc. should be cleaned daily, and more frequently depending on the volume of traffic at your business
    • Reusable fabric supplies should be laundered after each use, and single-use supplies are recommended where possible
  • Enhanced hygiene: You should wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after eating food, using the restroom, touching your face, between clients, and cleaning/disinfecting. Do not touch your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Social distancing and mask-wearing: stay 6 feet away from clients and coworkers when possible. Discourage clients from bringing additional people to appointments where practical, and be certain to wear a cloth mask when in the salon or workspace. Keep extra masks on hand in case your mask gets wet or soiled. Masks should be washed after each use.

If you get sick, are exposed to, or develop symptoms of Covid-19:

The importance of health screenings and testing

Some businesses have implemented the use of health screenings and employee testing to combat Covid-19. Health screenings can be monitored by the employer in the form of on-site temperature checks or surveys given to employees. They can also be self-screenings in the form of surveys that employees can take before departing for work. Employers who wish to have oversight over health screenings should consider doing them virtually while employees are still at home.

Tests can be a valuable tool in determining whether an exposure resulted in an outbreak or when an employee may return to work. Employers may wish to consider making local testing site information available to their employees. When dealing with an employee trying to access testing, it’s important to be aware of the status of testing centers in your area. Extremely long waits and supply shortages have been reported in areas with high infection rates.

Some business owners have chosen to utilize the services of an on-site medical service provider, like Drip Hydration, to administer tests to employees. In-office testing circumvents the problems of long lines and supply shortages, and can provide results in as little as 15 minutes. You can arrange an appointment for a nurse to visit your salon, workspace, or home and give Covid-19 tests to you and your staff. Staff testing can be set up on an as-needed or ongoing basis.

Local mandates for reopening beauty businesses

We’ve linked local mandates and restrictions for a few major metropolitan areas below. Personal care service professionals from other areas should contact their local health departments and licensing agencies for further guidance.

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Drip Hydration Can Help Keep Your Operations Smooth

While you may be ready to resume business, clients may be hesitant to return to their former beauty routines out of fear of exposure. Regular tests given by Drip Hydration are a great way to ease client concerns and show you are committed to preserving everyone’s health – including your own. We offer progressive group and ongoing appointment discounts, so our services are more affordable than you think. Independent professionals and employees may be excited to learn our discounts apply to private in-home services as well. PPO insurance holders may also be entitled to partial reimbursement for our services.

Whether you are an independent beauty professional or a large salon with many employees, we are excited to work with you. Call us for a consultation today!