How can I maintain social distance for COVID-19 if I run a hair or nail salon?

Important PPP update for 2021

On December 22, 2020, Congress passed a bill renewing funding under the CARES Act, including an additional $284 billion earmarked for America’s struggling small businesses. The rules and application process for PPP loans and forgiveness have been modified, with more businesses eligible for PPP loans, more expenses forgivable, and a simplified application process. Also there is provision for “second draw” PPP loans for businesses that received PPP funding in 2020.


In this 4-minute read:

  • Maintaining social distance in your salon
  • What if you can’t maintain distance between staff and clients?

Across the United States, businesses have moved in and out of “reopening” protocols due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. However, even in states that are in a condition of “open-ness,” state and local health departments are encouraging people to continue to maintain social distancing measures as they go out and try to live a normal life again. 

One business where it may be difficult to achieve full social distance, particularly between staff and client, is hair and nail salons. We have some tips for how you can help your salon keep social distancing measures, or at the very least maintain healthy practices when a strict 6-foot social distance isn’t possible. 

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Maintaining social distance in your salon

While it may not always be possible to maintain social distancing between staff and clients, you can certainly adapt your salon to have appropriate distance between clients. 

A few ways you can encourage social distancing in your salon:

  • Make sure booth spaces or stations are far enough apart to maintain social distancing practices. The CDC recommends staying at least 6 feet, or two arms’ lengths, away from others
  • Consider roping off or removing your lounge area. Couches and waiting areas are places that people tend to congregate as they wait for their appointments. Make these areas off-limits, or keep single-person chairs that are at least 6 feet apart from one another
  • Encourage clients to arrive at the salon right as their appointment is supposed to start, and if they get there early, to stay in their vehicle or wait outside until their scheduled time
  • Keep markers on the floor where lines may gather (at the cashier’s stand) to encourage physical distance between clients
  • If you have fans that generally blow through the salon, make sure these aren’t blowing air directly from one client to another. Consider turning all fans off or removing them if possible
  • For nail clients, consider using a transparent plastic barrier between the nail technician and client with space for the client to put their hands or feet through

What to do if you can’t maintain social distance between staff and clients?

In cases where social distancing isn’t possible—styling or washing hair, giving mani-pedis—there are best practices that you can maintain in order to help keep staff and clients safe. 

  • For all tasks, staff members should be wearing face masks and disposable gloves. Encourage clients to do the same, and provide masks and gloves if you have them available
  • Between each client, employees should change their gloves and wash their hands
  • Clean and sanitize each station and any tools used between clients. If needed, allow more time between each appointment to make sure this happens
  • Wipe down and sanitize all other surfaces regularly (door handles, countertops, handheld mirrors, etc.)
  • In some areas, staff may be required to wear dental/surgical face shields because of the increased physical contact with clients
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available for your employees and clients
  • Don’t allow employees to come into work if they’ve been sick, and take their temperatures upon arrival
  • Encourage cashless transactions, and even contact-free transactions when possible. Allow customers to pay online if you have the ability to do so
  • If you are allowing cash tips, leave a jar out that customers can put the tip in so your employees don’t have to handle the cash

As you make the necessary adaptations to your salon so you can safely reopen, make sure your staff and clients are informed of these measures. This will help provide peace of mind to your clients so they are more comfortable scheduling and keeping their appointments and it will help emphasize the importance of these actions to your staff. 

Go deeper: read our full article on how to reopen your hair or nail salon after COVID-19.

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