This week, several states like Georgia and Texas are beginning to cautiously allow the opening of selected businesses. They are doing this in the wake of the Federal Guidelines for reopening their businesses which provides guidelines for reopening but allows local governors to make final specific decisions. I’m going use the opening of Hair Salons as my discussion focus because it is controversial but brings out all the complexities of reopening a business.
In the past month, grocery stores, pharmacies, big box stores and Home Depot have opened without starting any outbreaks – this suggests that other businesses may find ways to reopen and stay safe as well. It is hopeful that gyms, schools and other places can find ways to open and operate safely.
It should be emphasized that within a state the infection rate of Covid 19 can be very different. This means that you should know the situation around where you live. Some areas have much higher rate of infection and people should behave accordingly.
Texas. For instance, in the last 14 days 155 of the 255 counties of Texas have not reported any cases of Covid 19. Another 19 counties have reported less than 10 new cases of Covid 19. This is in contrast to the largest county, Harris and Dallas counties which reported 754 and 556 cases respectively in the same time period. Just 10 counties account for 72% of the Covid 19 cases in Texas. However, on percentage basis, on average 1.2% of the population of each county has been infected. Keep in mind that this is a lower percentage that catches the seasonal flu. Your risk of getting the disease is highly variable in Texas (and everywhere else).
Similarly the 10.6 million people of Georgia live in one of 158 counties. The top 10 counties account for over 55% of cases. It is a much different environment in Dekalb County (1600 cases including Atlanta) than in Montgomery County (2 total cases).
The reopening of businesses is not only economically crucial but also crucial to the health of the general population. Over 50% (some higher) of the people live paycheck to paycheck and lines for food banks are enormously long. Also, ‘elective’ surgeries and medical treatments have been stopped but the long term health implications of these stoppages are not yet known. For instance, cancer screening stopped so there are people who may have been able to be diagnosed with cancer and start treatment have been waiting over a month just to get the diagnosis. People with chronic pain are also not being cared for during this time. A topic for another blog will be the costs involved. BEFORE the over 5 trillion dollars recently allocated by congress, the national debt was 18 trillion dollars which translates into an interest payment of approximately $500 Billion each year. That is $500 billion that could be spent on other things like education, homes, health care etc….the new spending will send our interest payments to over $600 Billion/year – over 10% of the US budget.
On the other hand, no one wants to ‘reignite’ the infection of Covid 19 after working so hard and making so many sacrifices to get the disease under some management so it will be balance to get back to work and stay safe. I’m sure there will be some good decisions and some bad decisions in the coming weeks. Choices have to made on imperfect and incomplete data and the interpretation of the data we do have can often be interpreted in different ways.
It is important to emphasize that in these states that are beginning to allow businesses to open – it is NOT business as usual. Social distancing guidelines remain in effect and there are many more procedures that must be followed in order to reopen and stay open.
One of the big controversies is the opening of hair salons. It seems that this puts two people closer than social distance guidelines. Is this a good idea? The first answer is, that we don’t know how this will work – especially if they follow the guidelines. This may be too much detail, but it illustrates the details that have to be taken for ANY business to reopen. Here are the Georgia Guidelines for Hair Salons. Also, consider that everyone should use some common sense along with government guidelines.
If you feel sick – don’t go out.
If you’ve been in close contact who has been sick, don’t go out.
If you feel sick – don’t go to work.
If you have been in close contact who has been sick don’t go to work.
Be mindful of exposing others to risk. Most recent data suggests that 80-90% of infected people have few or no symptoms but can transmit the disease to others. So even if you are feeling good, be mindful of who you come into contact or close proximity with.
Also, getting testing for Covid 19 just tells you if you have been infected on that day. If you were recently infected, you may not have had the time for the infection to become detectable. The test also will not tell you if you get the virus the next day or anytime in the future. If you feel like you might be sick – stay away from others (test or no test).
Look the hair salon guide over, consider where you live and decide if you would go to hair salon if you were in need of a hair appointment. I know this is only a small segment of life, but the same decisions will have to be made for every business that opens and every business you frequent.
Salon Guidelines – Georgia
- Salon/shop employees will be required to wear masks at all times. Salons may want to consider providing masks to clients. Clients should wear face masks to the extent possible while receiving services.
- Salons/shops should also make use of face shields, gloves, disposable or re-washable capes, smocks, neck strips, etc.
- These items should be disinfected or disposed of between each client. Employees should should arrive at the salon/shop showered and wearing clean clothing and change clothes before leaving the salon/shop each day.
- Hand washing with soap and warm water, for a minimum of 20 seconds will be required by employees between every client service.
- All salons/shops should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to reopening. Disinfect all surfaces, tools, and linens, even if they were cleaned before the salon/shop was closed.
- Salons/shops should maintain regular disinfection of all tools, shampoo bowls, pedicure bowls, workstations, treatment rooms, and restrooms.
- Additionally, salons/shops should remove all unnecessary items (magazines, newspapers, service menus, and any other unnecessary paper products/decor) from reception areas and ensure that these areas and regularly touched surfaces are consistently wiped down, disinfected, and that hand sanitizer is readily available to clients and staff.
- Avoiding the exchange of cash can help in preventing the spread of the virus, but if this is unavoidable, be sure to wash and sanitize hands well after each transaction.
- The use of credit/debit transactions is preferred, using touch/swipe/no signature technology.
- Employees who are sick will be expected to stay home.
- Salon/shop owners/managers should provide training, educational materials, and reinforcement on proper sanitation, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, use of PPE, and other protective behaviors.
- Ensure break rooms are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and not used for congregating by employees.
- Be flexible with work schedules/salon hours to reduce the number of people (employees and clients) in salons/shops at all times in order to maintain social distancing.