The hair salon has always been an especially intimate environment. It is a place where close contact is non-negotiable -- a hair stylist massages your scalp with the pads of their fingers; a barber leans in close to shape up your hairline.
All that stopped when the coronavirus forced salons and barbershops in many countries to close, temporarily breaking the bond between stylist and loyal client, and curtailing the camaraderie and community of many barbershops.
And as lockdowns ease around the world, salon owners and employees are returning to workplaces that have been crucially transformed.
"It's like opening a brand new salon," said colorist Maria Dowling, whose namesake salon in Dubai reopened on April 26 after a month-long shutdown. "It's the new era."
Under Dubai's rules, she is only allowed to operate with 30% of her workforce, which means a maximum of five of her 17 employees can be on the salon floor at a given time.
At Delphine Courteille's salon in Paris, which reopened on May 11, she says stylists must not only wear masks, but also protective visors. Clients must bring their own masks to appointments (two if they're coming in for a lengthy color service) or risk being turned away. Complimentary magazines and beverages -- a mainstay of high-end salons -- have been removed indefinitely.
At Chinese branches of the global salon chain Toni & Guy, clients who have recently traveled overseas must show proof of a recent medical report.
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