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For resort businesses, ease of restrictions not helping much

Hair salons can open and more retail stores can now offer curbside service
May 14, 2020

Last week, Gov. John Carney eased some COVID-19 state-of-emergency restrictions placed on retail establishments, allowing curbside service for retail stores and allowing hair salons to reopen for essential workers with restrictions.

Under the new order, clothing, shoe, sporting goods, hobby, music, book, department, office supply, tobacco and vape, gift, used merchandise and rental shops and stores can reopen for curbside service. Jewelry stores can reopen by appointment only.

The new normal is not normal at all, especially for hair salons that opened May 8 with strict social-distancing and sanitization standards.

Many salon owners say they weren't given enough warning and could not immediately open, but Bad Hair Day owner Drexel Davison, who had to close his salon in March, modified his Rehoboth Beach salon and operating procedures within 48 hours, in time to open to clients. “This whole thing is surreal,” he said. “I try to stay positive and energetic, but I go through all the emotions, from depressed to fearful.”

Davison said because of the time it takes for appointments and the time required for cleaning after a client leaves, his salon can accommodate only four or five clients a day.

He said his phone has been ringing off the hook as clients, who have not been to a salon for two months or more, are trying to get appointments. “We haven't even started with those calls yet,” he said.

Only two stylists and two other staff are allowed in the salon at one time, serving two clients at a time. Bad Hair Day employs more than 20 stylists who have been out of work since the state of emergency was declared.

Stylists, fitted with face shields, and wearing gloves and masks, must follow strict sanitation standards at their stations before and after a client leaves. Temperatures are taken as customers enter the front door.

Davison has removed all seating areas and is restricting appointments to one area of the salon. He's put products in a single room, which has been sanitized. Clients must wait outside on the porch prior to appointments.

Issues with curbside service

Also on May 8, some retail shops were allowed to open for curbside service. A drive down Route 1 and through Cape Region towns showed many businesses did not reopen for curbside service, including nearly every store in Tanger Outlets.

Rachel Webster, owner of Rehoboth Toy & Kite Company, decided to open for curbside service, with very limited success.

She said resort business owners are caught in a dilemma, whether to open or not. Some business owners want everything to open right away, while others are apprehensive about spreading the virus, Webster said.

Most resort-town businesses rely on walking and browsing traffic, many drawn to the area by the beach, she said. With the beach and Boardwalk reopening for exercising Friday, May 15, there will be more foot traffic, but the challenge of using curbside service remains.

Ocean City, Md. officials opened the beach and boardwalk last weekend with large crowds in attendance. Beaches in Dewey, Lewes, South Bethany, Henlopen Acres and Cape Henlopen State Park are open to exercising and walking dogs. State park beaches are also open to surf fishing under strict social-distancing guidelines.

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