Raleigh hairstylist questions safety of returning to work despite Phase 2 reopening

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As many businesses waited anxiously for Gov. Roy Cooper to announce when North Carolina would enter Phase 2 of reopening and hoping hair salons would be on the list, Raleigh stylist Jenny McPhie said when the news came down that Phase 2 would begin at 5 p.m. Friday, it triggered a lot of stress.

"It's scary," McPhie said.

While salons scramble to put protective measures in place so clients and staff feel safe, McPhie said she won't be comfortable working at all with the uncertainty.

"I'm going to have to be an amateur triage nurse," McPhie said. "I'm going to have to take temperatures, ask where you've been, you know, give you basically a health questionnaire. And I'm willing to do that stuff, it's just that people can be asymptomatic, and so, it's just I don't know it's just very stressful. I'm just nervous."

McPhie said she's been speaking to other stylists that feel the same and wants clients to know, the uncertainty isn't making it easy for anyone to return to work.

"There's stylists out there that want to open," McPhie said. "They have been pushing to open since the beginning, they never really thought we should close. But the majority of people that I know are very concerned, you know they don't want anything being traced back to them. You can get somebody sick, and possibly, they could die. I don't see how we can maintain a safe distance. We're obviously really stressed."

While salons can reopen at 50 percent capacity or no more than 12 customers per 1,000-square feet and face coverings are required for workers, McPhie said that in smaller buildings, and because of the nature of their job, it won't matter.

READ MORE: In Durham, hairstylists and barbers don't have a choice

Face coverings are required for those who work in personal care, grooming and tattoo businesses. They are recommended for patrons at those businesses. Any equipment that comes in contact with a customer must be disinfected between uses.

"So, that means all 10 chairs can be full with 10 clients," McPhie said. "We really want to get back to work, we really want to take our clients, but if things like gyms and bars can't open, I just feel really concerned that we can. Because the whole definition of a hair appointment is being in an enclosed space for a prolonged period of time."

McPhie said she was disappointed in the guidance from the state and doesn't plan to take any chances because of all the uncertainty. Knowing she will lose income and possibly clients, McPhie isn't taking chances going back to work right away in Phase 2.

"I have the ability, my husband can work from home," McPhie said.

"So, I'm going to take a few more weeks just to kind of see how it all starts to work out," she said. "But I have a lot of single friends. A lot of people that they just don't have that luxury, they have to come back, so it's very stressful."
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