With the decision to begin Phase one of Connecticutâ€™s reopening, all of the businesses eligible to reopen took many new precautions to properly sanitize their establishments and ensure the highest degree of safety possible.
For the restaurants, offices, zoos, malls and other retail establishments, Wednesday will be a start on the path back how business used to be. Unfortunately for the barbershops and hair salons, the opportunity to open their doors was taken away just two days before the planned reopening.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced Connecticut is delaying the reopening of hair salons and barber shops Monday, citing many business owners he spoke with were not ready to meet the necessary hygiene requirements.
This news was a slap in the face to many barber shop and salon owners in Bristol and New Britain, as they were ready and excited to begin servicing customers again.
â€ś[I was] frustrated beyond belief,â€ť said Gert Laprise, owner of Nefertari hair salon in Bristol. â€śWe are one of the salons that were ready to open. We have Plexiglas installed at the front desk; we have Plexiglas installed in between stations; we have face shields for me and the stylist that works with me. We had set in place procedures, temperature checks before people were allowed to come in, they had to have masks on.â€ť
Laprise said she had not finished calling back all of her customers that made appointments for May 20 and beyond. She even created more time in between her appointments to ensure fewer people would be in the salon at once.
Anyone who planned on entering the salon was going to have their temperature checked and then be given hand sanitizer and a new mask. The salon was also outfitted with moveable dividers that allowed customers separation at various parts of the salon.
With the governorâ€™s decision being based on the number of businesses that werenâ€™t ready to reopen, Laprise and many other business owners want to know how this is fair to the people that were ready to open May 20.
â€śI was in disgust and disbelief,â€ť Blaze Barbershop owner Johnny Turner said. â€śIt doesnâ€™t feel fair and those were his exact reasons, I watched the press conference [Monday]. For those reasons [he gave] I want to know who he was speaking to. Who does the governor truly have access to? I donâ€™t care about the well to-do salons that can wait to reopen. He needs to come to the urban areas and ask our opinion. These people who say they werenâ€™t ready, youâ€™ve been out of work for two months. You had a feeling of what was going to be required of you to return and then heâ€™s giving us two weekâ€™s notice. We found out about the 20th two weeks ago, so I feel like that was ample time to prepare.â€ť
Turner said he was completely booked for his first three days back upon opening in addition to the reservations made for his other three barbers. He was especially frustrated because he made a large post on the barbershopâ€™s Facebook page May 13 celebrating the businesses 21st birthday and announcing how excited he was to open back up, only to now have to make another post delaying the reopening.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart expressed similar sentiments, siding with the business owners she feels she is more in touch with than the state government.
â€śMy heart breaks for them because thereâ€™s nothing I can do. Iâ€™m just frustrated along with them,â€ť she said. â€śMany of them feel targeted and they donâ€™t understand the decision. The governor canâ€™t tell us one thing then backtrack after all the preparations these people have made. The decisions should be for the business owners to make.â€ť
Reporter Catherine Shen contributed to this story.