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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Town and Country Barber Shop and Salon owner Marti Brown cuts her husband Ron's hair inside of their shop located at 125 North Market Street, on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Barber shops and salons across Tennessee will be reopening Wednesday, with strict regulations in order to maintain social distancing practices put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Marti Brown is ready to get back to work at the salon she has owned since 1992, but she isn't taking any chances.

"Our clients are family, and I don't want to see anybody get sick, not on my watch," Brown said as she prepared to reopen Town and Country Barber Shop and Salon on North Market Street. "It's going to be done right or it's not going to be done."

Salons and barber shops can open their doors Wednesday in Hamilton County, much to the relief of scruffy residents who have gone months without a trim. But the process will be very different from the casual cuts and colors of life before COVID-19.

Everyone will wear masks, including clients, and a receptionist hired specifically to manage new processes will take the temperatures of clients and employees, and ensure no one is inside the business other than a single client with each of four hairdressers, said Ron Brown, who co-owns Town and Country with his wife.

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Chattanooga salons and barber shops reopen

 

"If your stylist isn't ready, you have to wait in your car and we'll text you in," he said. "We're just not allowing anyone to wait in the salon."

Alberta Baker, who has been a client of the Browns' for years, is undeterred by the new guidelines. After eight weeks of watching her normally short hair grow out, she will be among the first in the door on Wednesday.

"It's a little bit overwhelming when you think about doing all that to go get a haircut, but whatever it takes," Baker said. "I will be there, I will have my mask, I will do anything. I just want my hair cut."

Opening day was a little tough to pin down, and that led to a couple of false starts, Ron Brown said. Every time conflicting guidance came down from the state, county and city levels, the phones rang.

"The day we were supposed to open, we had hundreds of voice mails, all of them wanting to be first," he said. "They're all desperate."

Tennessee Pledge guidance for salons and barber shops

Tennessee Pledge guidance for salons and barber shops

Screen all employees and customers for COVID-19 symptoms

Practice recommended social distancing to the greatest extent possible

Employees should increase hygiene practices

Employees and clients should wear a cloth face covering

Services that require removing face coverings (e.g., beard shaving/trimming, facials, etc.) are not permitted in Phase 1

Limit the number of customers allowed in the premises to 50% of fire code

Services by appointment only

No waiting areas

No books, magazines or any shared materials

 

 

 

At A Cut Above Salon on Hixson Pike, owner Cindi Arendale spent days working down lists of clients who wanted appointments as soon as possible. She's looking forward to seeing her clients again, but social distancing and the clinical atmosphere will be hard in a business where personal connections run deep, said Arendale, who has owned the salon since 1986.

"It's not ideal, but it's probably going to feel a little more like you're going to a doctor than going to a hair salon," she said. "It's going to be different for a while. I know I'm going to cry some."

Shelly Evans and her sons, who are 13 and 18, will be among the first to get in and get trimmed Wednesday at A Cut Above.

"One of my reasons for making sure I was one of the first ones is I was making sure I didn't get stuck in the backlog," Evans said.

Contact Mary Fortune at mfortune@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter @maryfortune.

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