King County has been approved to move into the next phase of reopening and will be relaxing some of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place since mid-March. We're not technically in Phase 2 yet since our case numbers haven't met those prerequisites outlined by Gov. Jay Inslee. But, we're in modified Phase 1. Or, Phase 1.5. And it doesn't seem half bad.
Phase 1.5 is basically Phase 2 but with less capacity allowed for pretty much everything. Businesses will reopen, haircuts will be allowed, you can even go to restaurants! However, you can only shop in retail stores for 30 minutes and only 15 percent of capacity will be allowed at once. Similar rules apply for restaurants (50 percent capacity while outdoor dining, 25 percent while indoor dining) and hair cuts (25 percent of shop capacity).
While this feels like a win, it's a complicated song and dance to reopen the economy safely.
More rules will be put in place. For example, hair stylists will have to wear personal protective equipment while cutting hair, take clients' temperatures, allot time for wiping down surfaces before and after customers, and more.
Some hairstylists are worried about essentially becoming frontline workers. Sarah Griffiths, the owner of Treo Salon in West Seattle told The Stranger that she was scared to go back to work. She has asthma. Her mom has cancer.
"I feel like an experiment or a test dummy to see what happens," Griffiths said. "We are not allowed to go back to work because it will be safe, it’s because of the pressure to reopen the economy."
But, once salons are allowed to reopen she'll have to or else she and her workers will lose their unemployment benefits. She's been working for weeks to get her salon ready for Phase 1.5. That means among other things, measuring distances between chairs, trying to track down PPE for the stylists in her salon, and it means potentially raising her prices.
She'll be raising rates by a quarter of the haircut price because she'll be reopening at 25 percent capacity, hair cuts will take longer due to sanitizing breaks, and Griffiths has to pay for all of the PPE, tissues, hand sanitizer, trash cans, and what-have-you in order to reopen safely.
So, if you're getting your hair snipped make sure you don't have any COVID-19 symptoms, wear your mask, and tip well.
You can find more information on what's available in Phase 1.5 here. This is far from normal, but it's closer to normal than we've been for 87 days.