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Churches, Salons Begin Making Their Comeback

For those who have anxiously been awaiting the day when they could go get a haircut or have their gray roots touched up, the state health department has some good news to share. The same can also be said for those eager to return to church and religious services, though with limitations put in place.

The California Department of Public Health announced Tuesday, May 26 that counties that have attested to meeting the criteria for accelerated re-opening, which includes Stanislaus County, may re-open hair salons and barbershops with some modifications put into place.

“Together, Californians have limited infections in our state, and because of that work, many counties may make a decision to restart modified hair and barber services,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. “However, COVID-19 is still present in our communities and we are still at risk. As we venture outside our homes, it is critically important to keep physical distance, wear face coverings in public, and wash hands frequently to help protect yourself and those around you.”

Hair salons and barbershops were originally slated to re-open in a later stage of the California Pandemic Resilience Roadmap primarily because of the prolonged face-to-face contact between hairdresser/barber and client and the potential risk that carries of spreading COVID-19. For example, two hair stylists in Missouri tested positive for COVID-19 and health officials believe they exposed at least 140 clients.

In order to re-open, hair salons and barbershops will have to make modifications to adhere to social distancing guidelines of six feet or more. The CDPH also states both hairdressers/barbers and clients wear face masks during their visit.

While hair salons and barbershops can open, some services still haven’t made the cut to start up again. Those services include manicures and pedicures, facials, threading, shaves, facial waxing, and eyelash services.

The announcement follows one from the CDPH on Monday that religious and worship services can resume with limitations. Under new guidance, places of worship can hold religious services and funerals that limit attendance to 25 percent of a building’s capacity – or up to 100 attendees, whichever is lower – upon approval by the county department of public health.

The new guidance for religious services and cultural ceremonies encourages organizations to continue online services and activities, as a way to protect individuals who are most at risk for more severe COVID-19, including older adults and people with specific medical conditions.

“Places of worship provide comfort to many in our community, and we appreciate the collaborative work with our faith leaders on important re-opening practices,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Stanislaus County Public Health Officer. “There have been many outbreaks linked to religious services and choir practices. We have faith that our community will continue to look out for each other by observing six feet of social distancing and by limiting activities that promote spread such as singing, especially during this time when members of our community need a safe space to help them cope.”

In 21 days, the Department of Public Health, in consultation with local departments of public health, will review and assess the impact of the religious services guidelines and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of activities. This 21-day interval accounts for seven days for religious communities to prepare and reopen in addition to a 14-day incubation period of COVID-19.