In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners are weighing their options to reopen or stay closed.
On April 2, in a move to save more Georgians, Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order forcing certain businesses, like salons, to close completely. Three weeks later, he’s allowing them to reopen.
Kemp announced that on April 27, salons, barbershops and similar businesses listed here can open their doors to customers if they follow strict protection measures. The announcement had a mixed reception with some citizens praising the decision and others criticizing.
Brandy Sims is the co-owner of Replenish Salon in Atlanta. The natural hair salon is a small one-on-one operation with a cult following. Sims told 11Alive she found out about Kemp’s announcement when a client sent her a text message.
“When I first heard that the state was going to reopen, I low key felt anxiety to be honest with you because as a business owner there are so many people to consider.”
“Everybody’s best interest is what’s more important.”
There are employees, clients and everyone’s families to consider because the decision to reopen affects everyone.
“It was alarming for me personally. I wasn’t expecting it.”
She said when it comes to reopening, they’re taking it week-by-week and waiting for more concrete guidance on how to operate the salon safely.
11Alive medial correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy said, “I think it’s going to be important to protect each other so I think both parties, the stylist and the client should be wearing masks.”
Shampooing happens at very close contact so Reddy said, “possibly the stylists needs to get some sort of disposable facial shield...that may encompass their whole face...that may get them some sense of protection.”
As they’re closed, Sims said her employees are receiving unemployment, but she and her business partner are not.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a “Strength in Beauty Fund” as a relief for the cosmetology industry. She said her mother owned a beauty salon and that shaped her life experiences. In a post on Instagram, Mayor Bottoms said “That’s why helping these men and women, who are more than stylists, they are often our counselors, prayer warriors, and confidants, is so important to me. Keisha Lance Bottoms for Mayor, Inc. Is kicking off the fund with a $10k donation.”
She encouraged others to donate to the fund through the city’s COVID-19 response website ATLSTRONG.org.
Replenish Salon is one of the many Georgia businesses waiting to see how things play out before opening their doors. “I think you kind of need other people to be the Guinea pig, if that makes sense, and I'm not going to be that person”
Before she’ll be comfortable opening up, Sims said she’s following her gut and looking for cases of COVID-19 to go down.
“If that’s not in a few weeks, I’m praying it’s in June.”
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