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As hair salons reopen amid coronavirus, COVID-19, owners navigate 'new normal'

Maine's hair salons will be allowed to reopen on Friday, May 1, after being closed due to coronavirus, but business at most salons will not be conducted as usual

PORTLAND, Maine — At Maine's thousands of hair salons, back to business after the coronavirus pandemic will be far from business as usual.

In Governor Mills' plan to gradually reopen the state, hair salons have been permitted to reopen at the start of May. 

Salon owners at Portland's Head Games and Pageboy Studio say they've been preparing for reopening and considering how to do so while keeping both staff and clients safe and healthy. 

"I just ordered a ton of masks and loads of sanitizing wipes," says Head Games owner Alanna York. "Instead of sanitizing each location three times a day, as usual, we may do it twice per client now." 

Pageboy Studio owner Rachel Helm says, "We will only take one client at a time. We will lock the door between clients and not take walk-ins. There will be nobody in the waiting area."

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York says she plans to limit the number of clients and staff in the salon at once and will consider extending the hours the salon is open to make up for that lost business. 

"We can change our hours. I've talked to the girls about maybe for early birds, somebody can get a haircut at 7:00 when we used to open at 9:00," says York. 

Helm says she will waive cancellation fees. 

"If somebody even has a cough and says 'I don't think I should come in,' I'd say 'good, don't!' Give me two minutes' notice, I don't care, don't come in here!"

Stylist Sarah Schely says maintaining a clean and healthy working space has always been a top priority. 

"The first thing you learn in school is to sanitize," says Schely, "That's before you even learn how to cut hair it's clean clean clean."

RELATED: Portland to require public-facing workers to wear face coverings

Safety precautions may look a bit different at every salon.

York says, "I have friends that are other salon owners in town and we're all talking about 'what are you going to do?' and 'what are you going to do?' and kind of brainstorming with each other." 

Some owners may ask their older, most at-risk clients, to wait a bit longer before scheduling an appointment.

"It breaks my heart because I love them, but I love them enough to let their hair grow out a bit longer and wait to come to us until it's safer," says York. 

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus\

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