Compliant Safety Plans, and adherence to State safety guidelines required;
Blow-drying initially prohibited as safety remains under review
SOMERVILLE, MA – After a collaborative effort by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, local salon and barbershop owners, the Somerville Board of Health, and City staff, a reopening timeline and safety requirements are now in place for Somerville hair service providers. Establishments will be allowed to reopen on June 1 on the condition that they submit compliant safety plans to the City, follow all safety requirements in the State’s reopening plan, and, until further notice, do not offer blow-drying.
“Our guiding principles here are to protect worker, customer, and community safety with the hope that everyone can open once and stay open. We want visitors to our local businesses to know that the owners and the City are fully informed, vigilant, and committed to safety. It doesn’t mean we will be able to prevent all risk. The virus is still here. But in Somerville, our salon and barbershop owners have gone the extra mile to review, prepare for, and take every precaution to reduce that risk,” said Mayor Curtatone.
After a review of Governor Charlie Baker’s phased reopening plan, the City of Somerville previously announced a more cautious Monday, June 1, start for certain on-premises businesses such as manufacturing, offices, and certain personal services, while also stating that additional safety needs for hair salons and barbershops would be under review. Over the past week, the City’s Economic Development team held a virtual forum for salon and barbershop owners in the city, which led to intensive and swift work by an advisory group.
Over the course of five days, a self-selected advisory group of hair service providers representing the roughly 70 providers in the city worked with City Health Department, Inspectional Services, and Economic Development staff to review the array of safety protocols announced across the nation, dig into existing research, review equipment needs and sources, and issue final recommendations that exceed the requirements of the Governor’s plan. They also identified some aspects for which they asked the Mayor to advocate for change.
“I am honored to be a part of this and I’m grateful that Mayor Curtatone created this opportunity for all of us to work together. It was helpful to work with a health official as we worked through this because our main goal here is to open once and do it well and safely. Getting this right the first time is best for us, our staff, our customers, and the public,” said Lindsay Griffin, of Lindsay Griffin & Co., one of three co-chairs of the advisory group.
Key differences include that Somerville salons and barbers are opening one week later than allowed by the State, and in Somerville, the submission of a compliant safety plan is required (plans should be submitted to ISD@somervillema.gov). Inspectional Services will be carrying out spot inspections to ensure proper plan implementation. Blow drying will also temporarily not be allowed; this service will remain under review. A safety plan checklist is being prepared based on State guidelines and local discussion; it will be shared with all owners to standardize key requirements.
“I’m glad the Mayor wants to go above and beyond the state guidelines,” said Griffin. “We would rather be more cautious, and I think we really did this right. I’m on board with the no blow drying requirement. We did this in just a few days, so I have to admit it was stressful, but it brought all of the owners together with one goal, and doing that strengthened the community and formed new relationships that will be important to all of us going forward.”
As a result of advisory group discussions, the City also committed to reviewing possible options for COVID-19 testing to be expanded to workers in Somerville, not just residents. Owners also self-organize to create information-sharing channels to share ongoing tips, solutions, PPE resources, and other related information, and City staff will be assisting with compiling safety supply and equipment sources as well. Finally, a number of concerns were raised about whether gloves, rather than rigorous handwashing, aid or detract from safety in the salon context, and a request was made for the Mayor to raise this with the State.
“This is the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes, and that demands the greatest community effort to get through it,” said Mayor Curtatone. “I want to thank our local proprietors for the extraordinary sacrifice they’ve already made by closing to help flatten the curve, and for their commitment to safety going forward. But the other half of this equation is the public. Our best chance of safely easing into reopening is if everyone continues to follow safety guidelines. You must continue to social distance, wear face coverings in public, wash hands thoroughly, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you feel unwell or if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Our businesses are committing to keeping us safe and each of us must commit to keep them and all of us safe too. The better everyone sticks to the plan to keep the curve flat, the sooner we can head back toward life that is closer to normal. It’s up to us.”
The official order, safety plan checklist, and any updates will be posted to the City website as soon as they are available at http://www.somervillema.gov/covid19 under the “What’s Open, Closed, and OK?” tab.
Somerville Requirements for salons and barbershops are as follows:
1. Effective at 12:01 am, June 1, 2020 hair salons and barbershops may open their businesses to workers and customers, provided that they follow the workplace rules and standards set forth and referenced herein.
2. All hair salons and barbershops must maintain and follow at a minimum the safety rules and guidelines referenced in the Governor’s COVID-19 Order No. 33.
3. Before being permitted to open, each brick-and-mortar location shall submit a compliant COVID-19 Safety and Layout Plan to the Inspectional Services Department for review. The plan shall be made available to workers, customers, and City inspectors.
4. The City, through its enforcing agents, shall have the right to request modifications to the Safety and Layout Plan so as to bring it into compliance. Businesses that fail to comply with health and safety requirements, as determined by the City’s enforcing agents, may be required to cease operations until they can safely resume.
5. In addition to the service restrictions set out in the Commonwealth’s sector-specific guidance, blow-drying shall not be permitted until further notice.
6. A customer log, as referenced in the Commonwealth’s sector-specific requirements, must date back to a minimum of four weeks, to allow for contact tracing.
For more COVID-related information, resources, and supports for Somerville businesses, visit somervillema.gov/CovidBizHelp.
For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit http://www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at http://www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.