BY DAVID FISHER
WEAKLEY COUNTY (March 26) — On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee stated Tennesseans should stay at home to help with flattening the curve of the coronavirus pandemic across the state.
“Today I signed Executive Order 22, which restricts businesses that cannot possibly safely operate during this COVID-19 crisis, including businesses like barbershops, salons, recreational and entertainment outfits. The order at the same time provides for the continuation of essential businesses throughout every county, because of my belief that we must protect our economy while protecting the lives of Tennesseans,” Gov. Lee said.
Up until Monday’s announcement, barbers and beauticians were operating under the previous order issued on Wednesday, March 25, by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, which limited social gatherings to 10 or more people.
Operators of local hair salons and barbershops across Weakley County were already closed or taking one customer at a time, in order to comply with the governor’s earlier guidelines.
Many of the larger salons, which have more stylists, had already closed because of the coronavirus epidemic, while some of the smaller salons remained open but strictly limited the number of customers they served.
According to Emily Rook, owner of Urban Designs, located on the square in Dresden, her business closed Monday, March 23, in order not to exceed the 10 person limit at gatherings. Emily explained, she and her five employees total six people working at the salon. If all five of her chairs are filled, this amounts to 11 people, which is more than the number of people allowed in accordance with the governor’s guidelines. “It’s going to be a little bit of a struggle for some of my girls and myself because the bills keep coming in,” she said. “I think we can get through it. But, it’s just not knowing how long this wait is going to be.” Emily added that she appreciates all of her customers and she and her staff will be ready to serve everyone who walks through the door, once the emergency is over.
Wendi Maxey of Visible Changes Hair Salon, located at 125 North Poplar Street in Dresden, was the only stylist working at the business last week. She took one appointment per hour, so she wouldn’t have more than one customer at a time. Wendi mentioned that Dathan Arant works as a barber one week out of the month, but he won’t be back until April 13.
The smaller salons, which only have one or two stylists, were able to keep the number of people inside their establishments well under 10 customers. This allowed them to remain open on a limited basis since there were only one or two customers admitted at any given time. However, salons were taking extra precautions to keep people safe.
Kelly Jo Wilson, owner and operator of Jo Jo’s Salon, located at 150 Hardin Lane, Dresden, works alone. This enabled her to space her appointments sufficiently so that she only had one customer inside the business at a time. Additionally, she limited her customers to no more than 10 people per day.
Kelly says she disinfects everything after every customer to minimize the potential health risk. She noted, if the coronavirus had become more widespread, and cases were reported in Weakley County, she would have closed her business already, until the threat of infection is over. Kelly says she had been scheduling a few of her regular customers per day.
“Everybody has been very supportive,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of customers call in to make sure I’m okay. Everybody has been more caring, and I think there’s a lot of love with everybody helping one another.”
She stated some people are anxious about the coronavirus and what the government is going to be doing about it. “It’s kind of a waiting game,” Kelly said.
“I plan on taking it one day at a time,” Kelly said.
Tracy Eddings, who owns and operates Tracy’s Place, located at 139 E. Main Street in Sharon, says she and one other stylist had been spacing out their customers until the order came to shut down all barbershops and salons. Tracy says, usually, she and the other stylist alternated the days they worked at the salon. Even when they were both working on the same day, there were no more than four people in the building at one time.
Tracy stressed she is not taking on any new customers during the coronavirus crisis. She was just taking care of her regular customers.
BY DAVID FISHER