Back in the hair chair after shutdown

When it's time to get up close and personal with your hairdresser, waxer, piercer, spa primper and preener, it's not as simple as it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

Walking into Trendsetters Hair Studio and Day Spa can only happen after a phone call from the parking lot at your previously set appointment time and a masked worker then greets you as they unlock the door.

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Immediately the client is asked to make use of the hand sanitizer and if there's not already a mask on your face, you'll get one to put on before being seated only where the service you've come in for takes place.

Gone are waiting area chairs or walk-in clients.

This is what salons look like in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Craig Landon, co-owner with wife Sonya of Trendsetters, said during the closures the business offered some curbside services.

"My wife and I have been answering a lot of questions and it's been an interesting process," Craig said.

"The first concern was to make sure we had the PPE (personal protective equipment) for our staff to open and one of the first things we wondered about when we heard we could reopen was what the guidelines were going to be."

Craig said the guidelines put in place by the province are on par with what's required in other provinces but are pretty lax in his opinion and he's put in his own protocols to make sure that both staff and clients stay safe.

"Some of the things we're doing and I'm sure other places are doing as well are not letting people who are not getting services done come into our business," Craig said. 

Each client will be taken to each station if they are getting multiple services with no waiting in between.

"We are also implementing full time sanitization roles so we have one employee who cleans all day long," Craig said. "Before we would clean in between clients but now it is ongoing throughout the whole day."

For piercings or waxing of the face where a client can't wear a mask, the extra step falls to the staff who will don a face shield, glasses and a mask to offer extra protection to employee and client, Craig added.

"That's a quick service but the prolonged services will be taken off the menu for now until we feel comfortable or something has changed with COVID-19 - until we're less vulnerable," he said. "So we're not going to be doing massages for now."

Tanning is also off the menu just because sanitization of the booth would be daunting.

There are no body wraps, either.

There is an additional $5 fee charged to each client to help offset the additional cost of the hand sanitizer, the mask and the extra employee now on staff to clean.

"Everyone seems quite thrilled to be coming back to the salon and everyone is reacting quite positively to the $5 COVID fee," Craig said. "Clients understand what the additional time and energy spent and expenses are and they don't mind paying the extra $5 to make sure everyone is safe."

Jennifer Tompkins, a client for more than 10 years, was Sonya's first client after Trendsetters reopened last week.

She needed some highlights and a trim that added more layers to her long hair.

Jennifer, who is a nurse, wasn't uncomfortable with the mask and the new protocols put in place at the salon.

She was surprised when she got the call from Trendsetters offering her one of the first appointments available as she, among many others, had their appointments canceled when the order came in March from the provincial health officer to close the doors to non essential services.

"I think we were both a little nervous to do this," Jennifer said. "I think we're doing the best we can, taking the best precautions that we can take with the masks and the sanitizing and it's also nice to try to get back to life as well in a safe way. Sonya has made it really easy and she's such a great conversationalist and I love the way my hair looks."

Sonya said she finds it strange to be wearing a mask but it's important to keep everyone safe.

"Jennifer is my first client and she's perfect because she's very chill and her hair turned out amazing," Sonya said. "The biggest thing is having to wear the mask but because this industry is such a personal, hands-on kind of thing it makes it a little bit hard."

The volume of clients looking for appointments is daunting and Sonya alone is booked up to the beginning of July but once the wave of clients calms down it should be business as usual.

"We just have to get through this together," Sonya said.

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