JK staff photo wait for us 2020-04-10_web
Local News

Salon owner considers post-pandemic protocols

Larry Kane, at left, and his staff at Jonathan Kane Salon & Spa posted this photo on the business’ Facebook page on March 29 in an appeal to customers. (Provided photo)

Larry Kane, at left, and his staff at Jonathan Kane Salon & Spa posted this photo on the business’ Facebook page on March 29 in an appeal to customers. (Provided photo)

The South Suburbs have not yet seen the peak of COVID-19 cases, but at least one local businessman has begun planning how his shop will operate once the state-mandated restrictions are eased.

Larry Kane assumes things will have to look and work differently than before the COVID-19 crisis.

The virus reached pandemic status on March 11. On March 13, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that schools would be closed. On March 18, Kane realized his business, Jonathan Kane Salon & Spa in Homewood would have to close, too. Two days later, Pritzker announced the statewide stay-at-home order and closure of non-essential businesses. The closure order has since been extended to April 30. 

Kane said he hopes restrictions begin to ease on May 1, and he wants to be ready if they do. He doesn’t expect to go back to business as usual, however. He assumes physical distancing and new sanitization measures will be required. 

“I do want to come back” after the pandemic eases, he said. “But how do we come back? This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night.”

Pritzker has indicated that lifting restrictions might be crafted by industry because safety requirements might vary. Kane is thinking hard about the requirements for a salon/spa business.

“Everything we do is skin on skin,” he said. “We’re very clinically clean already.”

He assumes sanitization will have to be taken even further, and he is thinking through every step of a customer’s visit, looking at where people are close to each other and what they touch.

“I have to be prepared to protect my staff and guests,” he said.

He’s thinking through possible changes to spatial arrangements and timing.

The virus is spread through small droplets that become airborne when infected people cough or sneeze. Health officials worldwide have recommended that people maintain six feet of separation to lower the chances of spreading the disease.

For his salon, introducing a six-foot radius around would mean losing almost half his styling stations. That and other rearrangements come with a big cost in productivity. To compensate, he might have to be open seven days a week, he said.

Kane is also thinking through the details of existing services and perks for customers. Anything that involves touching products or samples will have to change or stop. 

He wonders about the necessity of encouraging staff and customers to use personal protective equipment during visits and how that could be implemented.

For example, one change that would reduce the possibility of virus spread would be to go cashless and use touchless digital transactions. Paper money and coins have long been cited as carriers of germs. 

“How do I clean cash?” he said. “Cash is no longer king.”

Losing cash as a means of accepting gratuities for his staff has a cost, though, since electronic transactions are taxed at point of sale and when the staff members report their earnings, he said.

Another challenge of the state restrictions on business is keeping his idled staff engaged. Kane said the group meets online to offer each other encouragement, and noted some staff members have used the opportunity to continue their training.

“My staff is my business,” Kane said. “They are the personalities of my business.” 

The governor, meanwhile, has not committed to specific actions once the current executive orders expire on April 30, only saying during daily COVID-19 briefings that he continues to study the matter of reopening the state and will follow the advice of scientists and doctors. 

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