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Salons reopen at partial capacity with new guidelines

More than two months after they initially had to close their doors because of the threat of COVID-19, salons across Albert Lea reopened to the public on Monday with numerous guidelines in place. 

Expressions Salon & Spa owners Jackie and John Abrego said everyone — both stylists and clients — has to wear masks, and they are taking temperatures of people coming into the salon. 

Stations are thoroughly disinfected after each client, and clients must wait outside until they are notified they can enter the building. In addition to social distancing, the salon is only able  to have 25% of its fire capacity, and no walk-ins are allowed. 

“We’re just glad to be open again,” Jackie Abrego said. “We are very thankful. We are going to do our best.”  

The couple said the people who came in for appointments Monday morning to the Broadway salon were “thrilled” to be there, and they thanked their customers, friends and family, who have been supportive of them during the last few months. 

“We got cards, donations, phone calls asking what we can do to help,” Jackie Abrego said. “We’re so thankful.”

The couple said when they heard the salon had to close per the governor’s orders in March, they decided to take advantage of the time they had to renovate their building, including sanding floors, restoring the ceiling and sealing the brick walls.

“It gave us an opportunity to come in and give it a fresh look,” John Abrego said. 

Sarah Ball, owner of Salon 22, said some of her stylists are coming in early in the morning and staying later at night to meet the demand. 

“We’re out for a good month for each stylist,” she said. “So far people have been really patient and willing to just get in whenever they can.”

Like at Expressions, both stylists and clients must wear masks, and everyone must have an appointment. People check in from their car and then are invited into the salon when it is their turn. Once inside, people sanitize their hands.

There are dividers between stations, and everything is thoroughly cleaned on the stations, as well as at the front desk and on phones and pens. 

“People are so happy to get in and get their hair done,” Ball said. “They’re very receptive to all of our new policies and safety measures.”

She said all of her stylists are booked out for at least a month as they try to catch up on the clients who were scheduled during the closure. They have contacted those clients first and then are moving down the line to people who contacted them when they were closed. 

“We’re all so glad to be back to work and so glad to see all of our clients and hope that everything stays as it is moving forward that we don’t backtrack and everyone can stay safe and healthy,” Ball said. 

“Most of our clients, we feel that they’re friends as well. It’s so nice to have that personal connection again.”

Salons were part of Gov. Tim Walz’s gradual reopening of personal care businesses, along with barbershops and tattoo parlors. The order requires businesses to have clear plans for social distancing, sanitizing and other safety measures to keep coronavirus risks down, including operating at 25 percent capacity at first.


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