COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Monday was the big day that many close-contact businesses in South Carolina have been waiting for since closing down April 1.
Hair salons, gyms, nail salons and spas are just a few of the businesses that are now able to open their doors and see their customers for in-person services and treatments.
A few different salon owners said they were excited, adding that this is the day they have been preparing for, and they are ready to welcome back their customers with new sanitation measures in place to keep everyone safe.
Temperature checks are now part of the new normal for staff and customers checking into Spa 131 in West Columbia. However, that’s not all owner Marci Delaney says she and her staff are doing to make customers feel safe.
“When our customers come to our door the first thing we do after greeting them with a big smile is make sure we have our PPE on, we are wearing face masks and face shields,” Delaney said.
Brandon Palekas, the manager at Occo Luxury Spa and Salon, said all of their employees are also wearing masks, and they ask their customers to do the same.
“I don’t think you can be diligent enough when it comes to sanitation in this business,” Palekas said.
With that mentality in mind, he said Occo is only booking half of their usual number of appointments, giving more space between customers and time for cleaning.
“There’s not as many slots to fill during the day, but I think we are able to take better care of the clients and make sure that the clients and staff feel safe,” Palekas said.
Palekas said they are having customers wait in their car, instead of the waiting room, and are using plexiglass to separate staff from customers during a manicure -- when staying 6 feet apart isn’t possible.
Delaney said they are also having their customers wait in the car before their appointments.
“With the close contact in this industry, I don’t know if there was ever going to be a date when 100 percent of people were going to feel safe," Palekas said. “We left it up to our employees whether they were ready to come back.”
Delaney said some of her staff chose not to return yet.
“It’s been a challenge in that some of the people in our industry think it’s too early to come back,” Delaney said.
However, Palekas and Delaney said their customers are excited to see the doors open again.
“People were rearing to go, it seemed like the day we shut down, people were ready to come back, so clients are excited,” Palekas said.
“My phone started ringing immediately, texting, its constantly going off making appointments and so excited about wanting to come in, people are ready to be out again and have the services we provide,” Delaney said.
Gov. Henry McMaster issued guidelines for close-contact businesses as they reopen. Some of the guidelines for salons and spas include staying six feet apart when possible, and having staff wear a face mask when social distancing isn’t possible. The guidelines also included limiting the number of customers in waiting areas and frequently disinfecting surfaces.