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Businesses prepare for 'Phase 1' of reopening plan

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BATON ROUGE - Many businesses will have the opportunity to reopen their stores to customers, with restrictions, as the state enters 'phase one' of reopening the economy.

Hair salon and barbershop owners are now putting the finishing touches on their plans and spaces to ensure they are following guidelines released from the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Louisiana Department of Health, and the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology.

After a lot of anticipation, Mike Reuling, the owner of Air Salon and Blow Dry Bar on Perkins Road, says only one word came to mind on Monday as he heard the governor’s official announcement ending Louisiana’s stay-at-home order after March 14.

“Relief, relief. My manager’s right behind you, she’s jumping up and down,” Reuling said.

Calls started flooding in from people who haven’t had their hair cut or colored in two months shortly after the word got out. 

Reuling says they plan to set up a call center to handle the influx in phone traffic. He says the salon averaged around 1,500 customers per month before the coronavirus.

As expected, people will have a different experience when taking a trip to the barbershop or hair salon starting on Friday, May 15. 

Customers will have to wait outside or in their car before the appointment starts. Then, a waiver must be signed, stating that the customer has been coronavirus-symptom-free for 72 hours. Reuling explains that’s among other guidelines issued by the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology.

“Every person, when they walk in the door, they’ll be temperature tested, they’ll have to wear a face mask. All our stylists will have a face mask. Each station, shampoo bowl, will be sanitized completely after every service,” Reuling said.

Employees must wash their hands and disinfect before and after every customer they service. Only 25 percent of the store’s occupancy will be allowed inside to ensure social distancing among customers. 

“The thing with our industry, we can never get true social distancing between our clients and the service providers. But with the face masks and the temperature testing and the things we’re putting in place, I feel very confident, as I think the public should feel very confident that we’ll be able to perform a very safe service,” Reuling said.

Read the full list of guidelines from the state cosmology board here.

Reuling says they will be expanding hours to space out appointments. He adds that wearing a mask while getting your hair cut might have to take some getting used to, but he believes it’s the safest way to resume business.

“Everybody talks about the new norm, so we’ll see what it’s all about,” Reuling said.

All businesses are encouraged to register their business on https://opensafely.la.gov/ to receive updates and guidelines for opening from the state fire marshal's office and the department of health. However, businesses do not have to register before opening their doors on Friday.

Spas and tattoo parlors remain closed. Click here for more information about the state’s Phase 1 plan.

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