New Brunswick’s move to the next phase of COVID-19 recovery has brought some shear relief for people who were starting to look shaggy since restrictions began.
On Friday, Premier Blaine Higgs moved the province into the yellow phase — allowing hair salons and barbershops to reopen.
For people who have gone longer than normal without professional grooming, it was a long-awaited moment.
Chris DeLong was one of the first people in the chair at Hair Hunters in Fredericton, where he’s been getting haircuts for more than five years.
DeLong normally gets a haircut every three weeks. But he had to wait three months to get a fresh look Saturday.
“I was adjusting to it,” DeLong laughed, adding that he decided to leave his hair longer on top now than did before the shutdown.
DeLong was relieved to get a haircut and catch up with the staff at the salon. But he admits it’s a different experience now.
“It’s kinda strange, though,” DeLong said.
Anyone entering the salon must have an appointment. Customers are screened for COVID-19 symptoms, which includes a temperature check at the door.
Customers have to sign in and leave a phone number in case contact tracing becomes necessary. Everyone must wear a mask and staff are equipped with face shields.
There are plastic curtains hanging next to each chair to separate customers.
DeLong said he understands the requirements, but said it takes away from the social experience.
“Just the gear that everybody has to wear is a little off-putting, actually,” he said.
Karen Kindred agrees with DeLong. She said it was a “surreal” experience to get a haircut Saturday.
Kindred decided to use the shutdown as a chance to experiment with a different look.
“I always wanted to grow it out to see if I like it, because I always kept my hair short,” Kindred said.
But she said her long hair started to get to her over the past week or two. She realized she likes her hair better cut short, and was ecstatic to get a haircut.
“This was my chance to realize that I don’t really like it this length. So it was time to get ‘er all done up.”
Jon Fidler, one of the owners of Hair Hunters, said it’s been hard work to get the salon ready to reopen.
“I now have more sterilizing stuff on my station than I do, probably, hair products,” he said.
But Fidler said it was worth the effort to be able to start seeing his customers again.
“After 37 years in the business … you look forward to seeing all these people,” Fidler said. “You’re used to seeing them every month or two and then all of a sudden you don’t see anybody.”
Not all salons were ready to reopen on Saturday. Some decided to wait a couple of days to finish putting the final touches on their pandemic protocols.