Decked out in a face shield and mask, renowned hair stylist Paul Brown stood by as employees positioned new full-sized mirrors against the walls inside a space formerly occupied by T&C Surf Designs at Ward Centre where his new “pop-up” salon will open steps away from his main salon.
Brown, 72, redesigned the 2,800-square-foot site with 12 stations to adhere to the social distancing directives as he gears up to open the pop-up and reopen his main salon Friday. “I’m excited to see my staff and clients. If I didn’t love my clients, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he said.
The Paul Brown Salon is among many hair salons, barbershops and nail salons on Oahu that Gov. David Ige approved to reopen Friday. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell submitted a proposal to the governor Tuesday seeking his approval to reopen more businesses.
The reopening of Oahu’s salons and barbershops comes after Maui and Kauai counties reopened theirs recently. Salons in Hawaii County are set to open Monday.
Owners say all clients will be required to wear a mask and can expect to complete a questionnaire concerning their health and any recent travel.
Many owners say they are not accepting walk-ins and business hours are being extended with staggered schedules for employees and time set aside between appointments to sanitize stations.
Clients can expect to wait in their vehicles or somewhere outside of the salon until their stylist texts or calls them to enter the salon for their appointment.
Soon after the governor’s mandated stay-at-home order took effect in late March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Brown began to prepare for the reopening of his salon plus the vacant space next to Genki Sushi, purchasing gallons of isopropyl alcohol and cases of face shields, 5,000 face masks and other equipment for stylists.
“We’re very prepared,” Brown said.
All clients will check in at the main salon and shampoo service will be conducted solely for hair coloring.
Expenses surpassed more than $50,000 for Brown to ensure the safety of stylists and clients. “They’re my ohana,” he added. Many clients have been his customers for decades and some stylists have worked with him for many years.
Measures are in place that include temperature-taking of both clients and employees, hand sanitizing and a complete alcohol spray-down of the stations after each client.
“This is a different time. This is life or death,” Brown said. About 45% of his clients are age 60 and older. “I want this so safe not only for myself but for my clients and my staff so everyone feels safe.”
Stylists and barbers say sanitation measures have long been standard procedure, and with new guidelines set by government, they are boosting measures to reinforce safety for all.
A block away from the Paul Brown Salon, owners Alan and Michelle Vuong of Salon Blanc on the ground floor of Hokua, a luxury condominium building, added a touchless temperature scanner at the reception desk to check clients as they enter the salon.
A touchless hand-sanitizer dispenser sits next to the scanning device. “The moment they enter, they sanitize their hands,” Alan Vuong said.
The reception desk at Salon Blanc is now fortified with plexiglass barriers.
New cloth curtains serve as partitions between shampoo bowls and new air purifiers are placed throughout the salon. Stations are also set farther apart.
Alan Vuong noted services provided by salons and barbershops are essential to help uplift the community in these distressing times.
Keoki Limahai, owner of Faded Hawaii Men’s Barbershop on the second floor of the Windward Business Center in Kaneohe said he and two fellow barbers will wear face shields and face masks when they are attending to clients.
Each appointment will be blocked off with 15 additional minutes to allow the barber to sanitize the station. The procedure is going to be the new normal, Limahai said.
The new protocols will take some time to get used to, he added, “but in the end we’re going to adapt and overcome and continue to keep the curve down,” he added.
“I can’t wait to get back to work, to get back to the laughs and conversations,” Limahai said. “It’s my passion. It’s my career. It’s what I love to do.”
Gov. David Ige approved Oahu hair salons, barbershops and nail salons to reopen Friday under the following guidelines:
>> Comply with state and city statutory and regulatory requirements as well as guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
>> No waiting areas allowed.
>> Arrange seating 6 feet apart between booths and stations or install physical barriers between them.
>> Implement additional measures when social distancing is not feasible.
>> Ensure all equipment that comes into direct contact with customers such as chairs, shampoo bowls, capes and other hair styling tools are completely sanitized after each client.