Here's what East Bay hair salon had to do to reopen amid coronavirus pandemic: 'It is so overwhelming'

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- As more and more Bay Area businesses reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are taking a look at how some of them are making changes to help keep their guests safe.

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In Contra Costa County, hair salons and barber shops were able to reopen for business Wednesday morning.

In an effort to help build a better Bay Area, ABC7 News East Bay Community Journalist Melissa Pixcar went behind the scenes to learn about the safety measures salons are taking in order to reopen for business.

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Pixcar spoke with Noemi Woods, salon owner of Beauty Lounge and Wine Bar in Walnut Creek. Woods has owned businesses in the beauty industry for three decades and says has never experienced a hardship like the coronavirus pandemic: "I have been through recessions, building new businesses up and nothing has affected me the way that COVID-19 has."

The new arrival process

"When the client arrives, she is going to have to text each individual hair stylist. There are no longer waiting rooms so they have to wait in their cars. Clients will have to sanitize when they come in. We are providing all types of sanitation for our clients, wipes, alcohol, and soap. When you go to the bathroom, we have changed the faucets to hand-less faucets and soap dispensers. It is a challenge for salon owners because if we don't have the money, we can't provide all the sanitation supplies for our clients. "

The changes you will see

"We had to put up partitions and disinfect everything from windows, ledges, floors, stations, chairs and any surface. I want to make sure that I get all surfaces cleaned and ready for these clients. My objective is for my clients to have a safe, healthy environment so when they come in and relax and still enjoy their service but know that we are taking their health as priority."

Waivers for all clients

"As the client comes in, their temperature will be taken and the will have to sign a waiver. This is for their protection and for ours. The waiver says that they have not been around anyone that has had a fever or any symptoms of COVID."

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Half the number of clients
"Before COVID-19, we were able to have multiple clients at one time. After COVID-19, we can only have one client (per stylist) at a time. We are going to be making half the amount of money that we would make. A lot of the money comes from double booking."

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Disinfecting like crazy

"We have to disinfect all of our stations and all of our equipment and product. We have to schedule 10 minutes in between clients just to disinfect. The same thing with the shampoo bowls, the hose and chairs. Everything has to be disinfected. We will have a checklist so we don't miss a single thing."

Bye-bye blowdrying

"We are not able to provide blow dries, that is the fun part, that's when the client sees what the finished product is going to look like. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to provide that. Since COVID-19, the germs are airborne and we can be blowing them in the air and they can last inside a building up to three hours."

The cost: 'thousands of dollars'

"A lot of salons have had to close down, unfortunately, because they cannot afford to do the changes when we come back. Changes cost in the thousands of dollars and we were one of the industries that were hurt the most. We didn't get the financial back up that we needed. We are independent contractors and we do not qualify for a lot of these loans."

"Even before COVID-19, I was very into disinfecting my salon first thing in the morning. We have always been on top of sanitation, especially for our clients safety and health. It is so overwhelming. We have to stay on top of all the disinfecting and sanitation guidelines. Otherwise, we could be cited or worst we can be shut down. Fortunately, I have such a great team. We have been able to work together and we will be able to get through this together."

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