Social distancing be damned. Michigan nail salons and barbers still open

Jacob Lund

For now anyway, barber shops and beauty salons are allowed to remain open in Michigan. But the coronavirus has hurt business. (Photo by Jacob Lund)

March 21 update: Whitmer orders hair salons, barbers, spas, tattoo parlors closed

Social distancing isn’t easy at barber shops, beauty and nail salons. Getting up-close and personal comes with the territory, but they remain open despite fears over the coronavirus.

Although these days, business is so bad that some owners wonder why they are.

Early Wednesday afternoon, for instance, only one customer had come into Naturally Beautiful Nappy Hair Salon in Detroit. A normal day would have brought in 10 by the same time, said owner Sophia Pokuaah.

"It's really bad. Nobody's coming in," she said, adding that she may close the salon on Thursday because of lack of business.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday ordered the closure of all barber shops and nail salons. They’re still open in Michigan, confusing workers and customers alike (and proving a popular question to Bridge’s email help line.)

"Salons have not been given anything" in the way of safety guidelines, said Pokuaah said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer temporarily closed Michigan theaters, libraries, fitness clubs and limited restaurants and coffee shops to drive-thru and carryout service earlier this week. 

Asked Wednesday why barber shops, nail salons and such weren't included in the closure, Gov. Whitmer’s spokeswoman Tiffany Brown pointed to an earlier press release that noted such businesses were still allowed to operate. 


Whitmer’s order also allows funeral homes and golf courses to remain open.

At the Gaslight Barber Shop in Grand Rapids, owner Elwyn Griewahn said he'd received three COVID-19 safety notices from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

But the recommendations, including those issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were not aimed specifically at barber shops and beauty salons. 

Griewahn said he is making an extra effort to clean.

"It's kind of what I've been doing, only more of it," he said. Business was off at his shop, where Griewahn is the sole barber. 

"Last week I was busy. I had a good week," he said. "This week has been slow."

At Snipz, a barber and beauty shop in Redford Township, owner Patty Lindsay said she is taking “just the standard procedures” such as extra cleaning to stay safe.

Lindsay is doing extra cleaning at Snipz, and has told her stylists they can limit customers to appointments-only rather than grooming walk-ins.

So far, she said, none of the five stylists has taken her up on that. The stylists haven’t been wearing gloves while cutting hair. 

"It's kind of hard to do that,” Lindsay said.

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Thu, 03/19/2020 - 10:24am

"Tough decisions during tough times". If a lot of extra cleaning is going on, is that negated when "social distancing" is ignored?
Indications are we are in this for a while - and that means all of us. Will have to see what the next directives are from Lansing and Washington and whether some will switch from guidelines to mandates. But we need to see if people will adhere to the "tough decisions during tough times".

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 10:12pm

They absolutely should close. Can’t tell me everyone is getting a fresh clean cape.

Salon emptypock...
Thu, 03/19/2020 - 1:08pm

If the bill passes to send a check to those businesses that have been shut down, will not benefit us cosmetologists that still have to work. I'm in direct contact with people that sit in my chair, that touch my tools, that my hands come in direct contact with every single person that walk into my salon. I don't have a clue where they have been in the last 2 weeks, or even that day. I usually walk out with close to $200 a day. In the last 4 days, I made around $25 dollars for 2 of those days, and $0 for the other 2 days. Where will the help come for us, if it's not mandated to close our doors? Bill time is coming, and I don't have the resources to pay, especially if I'm at working and only cleaning continuously, without any customers coming in. I don't know what to do. I can't believe that we have been divided from spas, workout places, and restaurants. Little, to No clients, no money for bills, no money for food, and we don't qualify to receive federally issued monetary help, in the form of checks, mailed to businesses that have been mandatory shut down. Please send help to us; either say how safe it is to get your hair cut, or say we need to shut down. WE NEED TO HAVE HELP IN ANY FORM TO SALONS AIMED AT HAIR CUTTING.

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 2:10pm

At our hair salon, we have gone to a rotating schedule where only two stylists are allowed to work at one time. They also have to use stations at opposite ends of the salon. They also have to wear gloves. Customers have to come in having already washed their hair. Of course cleaning stations and tools excessively between customers is a must. With these precautions, I believe the risk is greater by going to your grocery store than going to a salon.

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 8:01pm

Hair stylists are not well trained in infection control protocol. Neighboring states have closed salons due to Covid-19 . Michigan should follow their lead.

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 10:00am

The Governor and her female staff don't want to cancel their hair appointments. However she is happy to close shooting ranges for people practicing their second amendment rights and where people are separated into shooting lanes far apart from each other.

Tom Vallier
Fri, 03/20/2020 - 6:26pm

You have to remember, Winter people coming back home, that lives in the upper peninsula. Poor idea. Also there are many people that live in the upper peninsula, that are not poor

Jeremy davidson
Fri, 03/20/2020 - 9:17pm

What about the dairy farmers that dont get paid overtime,insurance, child care while school is closed,no bonuses but have to go to work or get fired or stay working and possibly get this virus? Farmers go unseen

Marc ludeman
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 10:13pm

Are barbershops opening in May ?
I’m a owner and the only barber and go by appointment only . When will I be able to get back to work
Marc Ludeman

Lorea Lewis
Mon, 04/27/2020 - 9:15pm

Essentials we're never distinguished by government.Any type of business should be given guidelines and held to them.Good grooming is essential for job interviews,self esteem,psychosocial.Either supply barbers,nail salon etc. With masks, guidelines or require they and their customers have them in order to have this service.

Sherry shopshear
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 3:13pm

Well someone needs to put a muzzle on her this is crazy. And stupid I work everyday as an essential work and no mask and will never wear one and I’m fine. Guess she needs to believe and follow God Better.

Sat, 05/02/2020 - 7:07pm

Leave guns AND signs outside!! I believe in freedom of speech. I’m not supportive of the right to bear arms. But these crowds looked and sounded scary, even outside!! And entry should only be allowed with masks. So No shirt, no shoes, no hoodies, no mask... no service And no carrying of guns.
Good enough rules for our schools, good enough for our state Capitol and all government buildings.

Sun, 05/03/2020 - 9:41am

Are salons open in Michigan?
I’m hearing conflicting stories...

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 11:34am

I see a comment about not getting a clean cape every time. We are indeed using capes and everything once. Maybe not most but we are indeed. Most in our area are not wearing masks either but we are. Cleaning is crucial. I have a strong budget and know many do not and they do need help. It will be sad if they have to close. The best news is the cure rate is higher than ever. Mostly I feel bad for kids. It is a shame they will not have a holiday like we are used to. Making people sit at home is a bad idea. Michigan proved it after many months of looking out the window we are right back to the RUN FOR YOUR LIFE NEWS PEOPLE. Turn them off and live. It is an invisible virus only seen under a lens. Many blame those in politics as if they can control it. Good luck.