How Nail Salons Will Be Different When They Reopen Amid Coronavirus

Joline Buscemi

After staying at home for weeks to ward off the coronavirus, going back to our local nail salon promises a slice of normalcy in our otherwise upturned lives. But as states let non-essential businesses open their doors again, beauty salons will have to look and function differently than they did pre-pandemic.

Is it too early to get your nails done? It depends, said Saskia Popescu, senior infection prevention epidemiologist at George Mason University.

“Since nail salons are one of those higher-risk environments due to the face-to-face contact for a prolonged period of time in small enclosed spaces, safety measures will be critical,” she said.

Widespread community transmission of the virus, a stressed health care system and limited testing are all reasons, Popescu said, that we should be cautious generally about reopening non-essential businesses. 

Nail technician Habe is protected by a plexiglass barrier while giving a customer a manicure at Nails and Spa salon on May 20, 2020, in Miramar, Florida. (Johnny Louis via Getty Images)

“There are safe ways to do it, but it’s about vigilant infection control measures and those are often prone to human error. So business owners need to take care to follow stringent guidelines and also enforce them with customers,” she said.

As nail salons reopen or make plans to, managers are putting new strict safety protocols in place, sometimes even beyond what might be required by local governments.

In Miami, which has been a coronavirus hotspot in Florida, nails salons like Mano reopened on May 18. Mano requires customers not only to apply hand sanitizer but also to wash their hands, according to the salon’s founder, Monique Magnaye. Everyone inside the salon must wear a mask. Acrylic dividers have been placed between clients and employees at each manicure station, she said, and stations are set 6 feet apart. The waiting area is now outside the salon to minimize the number of people inside. And, of course, touchpoints within the salon are being repeatedly cleaned.

It’s about vigilant infection control measures and those are often prone to human error. So business owners need to take care to...

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