This is why you should cancel salon appointments amid the coronavirus pandemic

By Kaitlyn Frey
March 16, 2020 04:33 PM
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As establishments nationwide continue to close doors and major events keep being postponed or canceled in order to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), some places, like hair and nail salons, are still keeping their doors open in order to provide employees with work and their customers with routine. But as the CDC and government officials urge social distancing, many are left wondering if they should consider canceling all beauty appointments like haircuts, waxes, manicures, pedicures and facials.

As part of the CDC’s recommendations to prevent the passage of the virus, it is encouraged to stand no closer than six-feet away from another person “for a prolonged period of time.” In the case of these beauty treatments, even if a manicurist, hairstylist or facialist is wearing gloves or a mask, close physical contact is inevitably required.

While there has yet to be any government-issued shutdown of these establishments, Dr. Robert A. Norton, a professor of Public Health at Auburn University, tells PEOPLE it is “wise to avoid crowded spaces for at least the time being” because no matter what, there will be some level of risk.

“People need to consider whether the necessity of the appointment or trip to the overrides the risk of being in public,” Norton says. “That is a personal decision, but social distancing is a wise move for now.”

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When deciding whether or not to go to your regular appointments, people can take into consideration the number of coronavirus cases in their state or region. “In areas with few or no cases, the risk is not zero (the virus is here), but generally less than the risk encountered in areas and regions where the case numbers are higher,” Norton says.

However, he emphasizes the fact that people with “underlying medical conditions need to be particularly cautious in all of their decisions about going out in public for the time being.”

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He adds that it wouldn’t surprise him to see many beauty establishments shut down temporarily or modify business practices to “accommodate the concerns” people have about staying safe amid the pandemic.

“The effect on the economy has been massive to date. It will get worse before it gets better,” Norton says. “For the time being, we all need to focus on remaining calm, making decisions based on facts and not fear and realizing that the rate of new infections will eventually slow down.”

New York City face, body and nail salon Chillhouse announced on Sunday evening that it made the “difficult decision” to temporarily close all of its retail locations for two weeks following the news of the N.Y.C. public school closures. “As a small business, we are going to do everything in our power to support our retail team during this time and we’ll have more info on how we will be doing that soon,” the brand’s statement read.

Tenoverten nail salon has also closed all five of its N.Y.C. locations “for the foreseeable future.” In a statement on Instagram, the founders said: “We are dedicated to coming out of this stronger and will do all we can to support our employees during this challenging time, as well as be there for our customers who will need to practice their own non-toxic nail care routines at home.”

On Saturday March 12, Bumble and bumble announced it would be closing its two N.Y.C. flagship hair salons for the rest of the month as a proactive measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The first cases of the mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016. On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency in the U.S. as the number of cases rise.

As of March 16, there have been at least 3,602 coronavirus cases confirmed by lab tests and 66 deaths in the U.S., according to a New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.