MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Despite a green light from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, many barbershops remained closed Monday morning, and at least one that was open did not appear to be following all of the new rules.
Several barbers told FOX10 News that they did not plan to resume business until late Monday or Tuesday.
Under Ivey’s modified “safer-at-home” order, barbershops, hair salons and other close-contact businesses were allowed to open after more than a month of forced closure. But they are supposed to follow a host of regulations designed to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Those rules include masks for all employees when they are within 6 feet of a customer. And customers are supposed to be spaced at least 6 feet from one another.
That was not the case Monday at Skyland Barber & Style on Government Boulevard. Owner Albert Laird told FOX10 News that he would wear a mask if he believed he needed one.
“If people look bad, I’ll wear a mask,” he said. “I got one. … If I’m concerned, I’ll send them somewhere else.”
Laird said he was trying to scatter waiting customers and was sanitizing his equipment. He said no one from the Mobile County Health Department had been to his shop,
“They probably will,” he said.
Mark Bryant, a spokesman for the Mobile County Health Department, told FOX10 News that people should call or text 911 if they witness a potential violation of the statewide health order.
Other area barbers said they would be open later. Jared Houston, who owns Twinz Blendz Barbershop, told FOX10 News that he would be open Tuesday. He said he is taking steps to limit exposure.
“Only taking a limited number of people inside the building at a time. And just going by appointments only – no walk-ins,” he said.
Houston said he would ask people who arrive early for their appointments to wait inside their vehicles. He said he would be wearing a mask and gloves. And as for his customers, he said, “I would prefer you wear a mask,” although he added he cannot compel that and would allow them to take it off during the haircut, itself.
Mahmoud “Mo” Mahmoud, owner of Mo’s Barber on Airport Boulevard, also said will be wearing a mask and gloves when he opens at 5 p.m. Monday.
Mahmoud said he only takes appointments in normal times but would ask people to wait outside if he is not finished with hair he is cutting. He also said he will rotate clippers and other equipment, using one set while another is sanitizing.
“Everything I have in the store, I’ve got two of,” he said, adding that he has more than two of many of the instruments.
“We’re going to do our best,” he said.
At Skyland, Laird was running a popular business for people who had not had a decent haircut in weeks. In addition to a full waiting area inside, people were waiting outside. Laird said he was booked through the end of the day Tuesday.
Rob Giles said Skyland is not even his regular barbershop.
“This is the only one I found that’s open,” he said Monday morning.
Giles said he wanted to get his hair cut Monday because it was his off day. He said he was not concerned about contracting the virus.
“I’m a firefighter. We’ve been dealing with it,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with the public the whole time. I’m not stressing about it.”
Giles said it has been an inconvenience not having barbershops open.
“A little bit, because, you know, we’re still expected to maintain grooming standards,” he said. “So, you know, there’s been a lot of home haircuts and stuff like that.”
John H. Nolan Sr., who was sitting in a chair in the waiting area, said he mostly has been staying home the past couple of months but ventured out for a haircut Monday.
“I came with my son over there,” he said.
For Laird, Monday was the first day back behind the barber chair in about six weeks.
“My doctor made me not work a few weeks ahead,” he said.
At 79, Laird – who has been in business for 55 or 56 years – is in a high-risk age group for COVID-19. But he said he was not deterred.
“I was ready to come back to work a long time ago,” he said.