Barbershops and hair salons across the region are slowly beginning to reopen, at reduced capacity, as counties move out of Phase 1 and into Phases 1.5 and 2. After a highly charged, stressful, and uncertain three-plus months cooped up at home, some kind of special treatment,  or even just a much-needed haircut, sounds like a dream.

Many of us, however, aren’t sure what to expect from such a trip — what it will look like, and how safe it will be. Currently, a haircut is possible, but likely not a spa trip: for the most part, public pools, spas, and water recreation facilities are not included in Phase 2, but rather must wait until Phase 3 to restart operations.

In the meantime, businesses are hard at work to answer questions and pivot in order to keep staff and customers as safe as possible — as well as strategize what the plan is as the phases continue to progress.

Gene Juarez Salons and Spas — which has 10 locations throughout the Puget Sound — is navigating safety measures for the services it can provide (hair and nails) by using innovative touchless retail technology. Powered by Zenoti, the leading cloud software for salons and spas, the technology is one measure that will make interactions more seamless through the personal cell phones of both customers and employees.

“We live in a time when consumers expect ease and convenience through touchless technology on their mobile phones,” Scott Missad, Gene Juarez CEO, said in a press release. “Meeting those expectations has never been more important in our post-COVID world. It’s not just about convenience, it’s now also about health. That is why Gene Juarez is delivering touchless interaction for our customers. From the moment they book to the moment they pay and re-schedule, our customers can use their mobile phones for every interaction. It’s one of the many ways we’re elevating their experiences and safety.”

With this technology, people limit making contact with commonly touched surfaces — like pens and keypads — and interact less face to face. Customers can wait in their vehicle until a service provider is ready for them, at which point they will receive a text message.

Other small businesses, like Tacoma’s Buzzerd’s Barbershop, are no longer serving walk-in clients, taking bookings by appointment only and similarly asking people to wait in their vehicles until the appointment. Face masks are required to be worn by both service providers and customers, and face shaves aren’t on the table until further notice.

As for spas, The Woodmark’s Still Spa in Kirkland will be reopening on June 14 with limited occupancy, social distance guidelines, team members in masks and gowns, and increased sanitation. Most other spas, including the one at Salish Lodge and Spa and the Spa at Alderbrook, remain temporarily closed. Check individual spas for more details on reopening plans.

If booking any appointment, monitor your health conditions beforehand, wear a mask, come alone, and avoid touching surfaces inside the business.