Last week, Sean Dulaney said he had no doubt that if he could open his barber shop in Port Townsend, he would have customers.
Now he’ll get to prove that. Salons and barber shops across the county can reopen with approval from the State Department of Health.
But Dulaney’s business model, at the Tyler Street Barber Shop, is different from most salons in the county. He relies heavily on walk-in business, and one restriction that comes with the county’s plan to reopen some businesses, including salons, is that customers have to be local.
Public Health Officer Tom Locke said that with increased traffic from out of the county comes the chance for an increased risk in new infections.
“This risk is especially acute if Jefferson County is perceived as the closest ‘open’ county to Seattle and thus an attractive day trip to escape the restrictions of urban ‘lockdown,’” he said.
The logic behind allowing services such as hair and nail salons to only open for local customers is to prevent the same increase in traffic to the county.
Many local hairdressers say they are ready to open and restricting customers to only locals will not be an issue.
Natalie Hamilton of the Salon in Port Hadlock said that for the past eight years, she hasn’t had the capacity to take walk-in appointments. Her regular customers keep her busy.
Dawn Gately, owner of the Parlour Salon in Uptown Port Townsend, said the same. She knows every one of her clients and sees them on a regular basis – there is no room for anyone else.
Dulaney said he isn’t concerned about people coming from outside the county. He contends there are already so many people coming from out of town — as well as people from Jefferson County traveling to neighboring counties — there is no way to know who has been careful.
All he can do is make sure his shop is sanitary, he said, which is already a large part of cutting hair. The licensing process for his work, he said, is mostly learning about communicable diseases and sanitation, much less learning how to cut hair.
Dulaney said part of his procedure will be to make sure each client gets a fresh chair cloth, which used to be reusable between customers. He has 20 cloths, so on any given day he will only be able to serve 20 customers before he has to wash them.
Many local salons are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of their customers. Hamilton said in preparation for reopening, she took an online course for hairdressers about COVID-19 and has eliminated her waiting area.
Lisa Johnson, owner of Salon Delucca in Port Townsend, said she isn’t considering the phases of reopening but instead focusing on the science and will open when they feel it is safe. She has set a tentative reopening date of June 1.
One thing remains clear: When salons and barber shops do open, they will not be wanting for customers.
Earlier this month, Hamilton said she went into her shop to do some work and when her clients drove by and saw her car parked outside, they stopped and knocked on the door asking if she was open.