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Local salons preparing to open their doors in May

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IDAHO FALLS — It’s unclear what stipulations will be put in place for salons when they officially reopen, but local salon owners want customers to feel comfortable inside their businesses when they’re given the green light.

Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday a four-stage plan to reopen Idaho businesses from the coronavirus lockdown. If all goes well, Little said hair salons would open in the second stage, May 16 to 29.

UPDATE: Little sets 4-stage plan to reopen Idaho businesses over 2 months by end of June

“I don’t know that a lot of people really understand the sanitation that we have to go through and the guidelines that we have to follow anyways, plus whatever might be put in place for us (after reopening),” said Liz Ritchie, owner of √Čternit√© Salon in Idaho Falls.

The sanitation and guidelines that Ritchie is referring to come from the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses — the organization Idaho salons are licensed through.

Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses requires salons to perform sanitization acts such as wash their hands before every client, plus all instruments and items used by operators must be disinfected or sterilized after cleaning and prior to use on each customer. Items or surfaces must also remain completely immersed in disinfectant, or visibly wet if using sprays or wipes, for the full amount of contact time.

Thanks to the bureau’s guidelines, Shea Cook, owner of NV Salon in Idaho Falls, said salons are safer than a lot of common businesses. But, she is already making preparations so that NV Salon customers will feel even safer when they reopen.

“A lot of stylists double-book, so they’ll have one person in their chair, maybe they’ll put a color on them to process and then while she’s processing, they’ll do a haircut, they won’t be able to do that anymore,” she said. “We’re allowing only one person per stylist at a time.”

Cook also said masks will be worn by NV Salon clients and employees, walk-ins won’t be accepted and cars will become the new waiting room. They will also require everyone to wash their hands upon entering the salon and temperatures will be taken at the door.

Eastern Idaho Public Health spokeswoman Mimi Taylor said they, along with Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and Economic Development Coordinator Dana Briggs, held three separate focus group sessions with salons, gyms and dine-in restaurants Friday.

Ritchie was one of about seven salons that were represented during the focus group. Taylor said the purpose was to get feedback from salon owners to be passed on to the governor to consider as the state makes salon guidelines.

“We talked about what their concerns were and different issues as to why they possibly weren’t allowed to open up on May 1st,” Taylor said. “But the biggest thing was is that the governor and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are looking to make guidance for all these different sectors, not just those three, but to give them guidelines for reopening. We thought it would be a good idea that if we talked to the people with the boots on the ground, doing the work, what would they see their guidelines looking like?”

Taylor said guidelines from the state are slowly rolling out and she expects the additional protocols to be announced in the coming weeks.

“We really want to make sure that we’re putting in safe practices,” Ritchie said. “I want the customers to feel safe coming back.”

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