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The realities of reopening: How barbershops, hair and nail salons are welcoming customers with caution

Starting May 11, barbershops, hair and nail salons can reopen under new guidelines.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In a video featuring Orlando barbershop owner John Henry, Gov. Ron Desantis announced that starting Monday, May 11, barbershops, hair salons, and nail salons can reopen after being shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued the following guidelines for barbershops, cosmetology salons and cosmetology specialty salons to follow: 

  • Salons must leave 15 minutes between appointments to allow time for employees to properly disinfect spaces.
  • Group appointments are not permitted.
  • All salons must operate by-appointment-only in order to limit capacity. No drop-ins allowed.
  • Employees must wear masks while performing personal services.

For nail tech and salon owner Alyssa Arnold, the closing of business impacted her team and her wallet. 

"I've had to watch nail techs leave because the income isn't here from when we closed, I was in the middle of doing renovations to expand my business and then the pandemic happened," said Arnold. 

Arnold opened her nail salon Art of Nails in Pinellas Park in 2016 and was able to upkeep her building and business through the help of the US Government Small Business Loan and the St. Pete Fighting Chance fund to aid small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. 

"I was able to get about $8,000 collectively from the grant and loan and that helped me honestly keep the bills paid, my rent was still due during all of this," said Arnold. 

RELATED: As salons prepare to reopen, some go above and beyond to be safe

Though Governor Desantis is allowing barbershops and salons to reopen, Arnold and her team are conducting a "soft opening," welcoming no more than 5 clients into the salon for service per day. 

"It's a lot for the staff to get used to, a new normal for the clients, seeing fewer people and keeping the distance is just the best thing for us to do right now, for everyone's safety," said Arnold. 

On the other side of things, Hair salon owner Courtney Smith opened The Beauty Smith Hair Studio in St. Pete 4 years ago and has put in hundreds of dollars into getting her salon prepared for reopening. 

"I've ordered one-time use supplies, extra hand wash, sanitizer, masks for myself and my clients, and even gloves. I've spent close to if not over $600," said Smith. 

With the salon being closed for 6 weeks due to the outbreak, Smith has resorted to using her savings to pay rent and buy supplies. 

"I applied for unemployment, as a business owner you never think you'll have to do that. I've survived solely on my savings to pay for my salon rent, buy products to sanitize the salon, and never got funding from the government or any type of loans. It's just me," said Smith. 

RELATED: St. Petersburg mayor on opening salons, barbershops: Go for it, but be safe

Forced with having to close her doors and think out of the box when it came to her business, Smith saw the pandemic as an opportunity to grow her salon in the digital space.

"I created an E-gift card that helped a lot. [I] built my website, got super active on social media again. These are things I wanted to do and tried to do when I worked a full day at the salon, but it just never felt like there was enough time to do it all. Now I have the time and its been refreshing to build my business in other ways," said Smith. 

In her 700 square foot private suite salon, Smith could service an average of 10 to 15 clients a day. 

"I know with shops and salons being able to reopen, everyone wants to rush out and make money. But I am waiting for my safety supplies to come in and will slowly reopen, I want people in my industry to think about their health and others first," said Smith. 

Art of Nails in Pinellas Park is doing a "soft reopen" of their business to the public on May 1. The Beauty Smith Studio in St Pete will be open for in-person servicing by June. 

To keep up with both salons you can follow them on Instagram at Art of Nails and The Beauty Smith

The executive order from Governor Ron Desantis to reopen barbershops, cosmetology salons and cosmetology specialty salons on May 11 does not apply to Broward County or Miami-Dade County.

RELATED: Florida barbershops, nail and hair salons to reopen on May 11

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