CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio barbers and hairdressers don’t know when they’ll be able to cut, color and style hair again.
They’re losing money by the day and many felt they should have been included in “phase one” of Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to reopen the state.
Waverly Willis has been a barber for two decades.
“I am going to miss the days that the barbershop is packed on a Saturday or on a Friday and everybody’s laughing, joking, slapping high fives and all that good stuff,” Willis said.
He’s preparing for what will become a new normal for him and other barbershop and salon owners across the state.
The Governor hasn’t said when the businesses will be allowed to host clients again, but on Tuesday, he announced an advisory board to tackle the issue.
“We’re ready to open today, if they let us,” Willis said.
He holds leadership roles with The Urban Barber Association and The Ohio Barber and Beauty Alliance.
Willis said the Governor’s team asked weeks ago how barbershops and salons could safely reopen.
“(They) asked us to prepare some documents, and the document was if you were to open up tomorrow what would you do,” Willis said. “So, we put a list of safety precautions in line. This was a few weeks ago. We would be prepared. Again, we’re loading up on our gloves. We’re loading up on our masks."
Willis said some of the suggestions are what’s happening in Georgia where employees and customers have their temperatures checked before entering the building, mandatory masks for workers, mask recommendations for customers and limits on the number of people waiting in shops for their appointments.
Willis has already been working on an action plan for his business and employees.
“I told my guys at Urban Kutz Barbershop if we’re not cutting, we’re cleaning and that’s it,” Willis said. “Our waiting area is pretty much going to be eliminated.”
He’s made sure barber chairs are 6 feet apart, removed all paper products and his stocking up on disinfectants and cleaning supplies.
Waiting for the state to give an opening date is painstaking.
“I’m trying to convince people to see the brighter side of this; your healthy (and) your family is healthy. But (there’s) only so much I can do when guys are literally going to the food bank two and three times a week. What do I do with that? A barber, we get money everyday. We don’t have paid time off and things of that nature. So, we don’t have anything.”
While the professionals wait for new mandates from the state on reopening, Willis said they know another hit is coming related to the cost of compliance.
He said supply costs for things like masks and gloves and cleaners have increased.
It will likely mean charging customers more for services.
"We're going to have to raise our prices because of the simple fact that these products haven't just went up a small bit. They went up a lot!"
Given the challenges ahead, Willis remains optimistic.
“I do understand where our Governor is coming from. We want to be as safe as possible. I want the public to know that you will be safe. We’re going to take every precaution necessary. We are champions. Champions make adjustments, not excuses.”