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Hairdressers make the cut

By Jennifer Woods reporter for the Southern Standard newspaper - Warren County

Hair salons will once again be buzzing with activity this week. They are being allowed to reopen Wednesday, May 6. Back in March, the order came down from the governor to close all nonessential businesses in Tennessee. Hair salons and hairdressers have been shut down since then. The other option besides waiting to reopen was to file for unemployment to supplement their lost incomes. That within itself has been a difficult process. Until the state received their grant to assist with unemployment due to COVID-19, a self-employed person couldn’t file. The website to sign up has been a nightmare with glitches and being overwhelmed with users. Some hairdressers finally received their checks last week while others still haven’t heard or received anything. It has been a baffling and unsettling time of many unknowns. This industry has been wondering when they could get back to work. Gov. Bill Lee moved the date up to May 6 after initially setting a time much later in May. The concern of safety is very much on the mind of the stylists and clients alike. Bruce Watson owns Reflections hair salon at 202 W. Morford Street in McMinnville. He has been in the industry for 36 years. He has been anxiety-ridden and frustrated during the closure even while enjoying the blooms and at home during this time away from his business.

Bruce Watson is ready to reopen his hair salon this coming Wednesday, May 6.- photo by Jennifer Woods

“I am so excited to get back to work,” said Watson. “It is a basic right, after all, and one most of us have taken for granted and many never appreciated in the first place. My work and hair are not my purpose, but my profession is my most frequently used and dependable vehicle to drive for fulfilling that purpose. I love and miss my clients many of whom are also a big part in fulfilling that purpose as well.” Every stylist and Watson now await what guidelines will be given to go along with the date they can open. “I have had a cleaning crew come in and clean and sterilize the salon,” said Watson. “I am more fortunate than many in that I work alone. It is much easier to adapt to new guidelines. I will have only one client at a time and wear a mask for now.” He also plans to use government-issued skin thermometers on himself to guarantee that his health is OK or give to a client if they may be feeling under the weather. “I will be asking clients to decline their appointment if they feel unwell in any way. I will be sanitizing chairs and doorknobs after each client, mandating handwashing and continuing with all the normal sanitary procedures our business has always demanded. Salons in general and mine in particular is a very controlled safe environment,” said Watson. During this unprecedented time it became clear that hairdressers felt overlooked or picked on. “During this crisis I have become painfully aware of the lack of advocacy for the stylists of our industry in relationship to the government. There are 57,000 stylists in the state of Tennessee alone. That’s a significant number of individuals and we have no representation in state government,” shared Watson.

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