Personal care business owners eager to get back to work

CASPER – Leah Juarez’s phone started buzzing almost as soon as the governor announced Tuesday that a handful of businesses, including hair salons, could reopen Friday. 

“We already have (May 1) and nearly the full week booked,” she said of her business, the Fox Spa in Casper. 

Under a revised health order issued Tuesday, personal care businesses like gyms, salons and tattoo parlors are allowed to reopen Friday, and child care providers are allowed to reopen to more than just essential personnel. The new order is active through May 15.

Those establishments are still subject to certain restrictions. They will need to limit the number of people inside and screen clients for symptoms before they enter. 

But despite the restrictions, several people in these industries told the Star-Tribune they’re eager to get back to work. 

Juarez is ready to reopen, but will wait to hear what Natrona County health officer Dr. Mark Dowell says before she makes any official decisions on how and when. 

Once given the green light locally, however, she said they will take clients like usual. 

From the online bookings the spa has already seen for the first week of May, Juarez said she’s hopeful business will pick up enough to make up for some of the lost work. 

Brandy Thomas, owner of Nick’s Barber Stylist in Casper, is hoping to see the same kind of influx in business. 

“I think there’s a lot of people shaving their own heads and doing their own hair,” she said jokingly. “So I think there may be a lot of fixes.” 

Thomas said Tuesday afternoon she hadn’t done enough research on the new order to determine exactly how she would move forward but is considering starting with one-by-one appointments. 

She said things have been difficult for the entire industry the last two months. 

“It’s not going to be anything close to what it was before,” she said of the business, but added she will do whatever is necessary to meet the new restrictions and hopefully reopen Friday. 

On the other side of town, Brandon Vanderpol has been busy at Fit24 and Prana Fitness working on as many cleaning and repair projects as he can find. He’s deep cleaned “every inch” of the gym. 

“So we’re ready to go,” he said. 

He hopes the gym will be able to reopen right away Friday. Staff will sanitize everything in the gym every 30 minutes, Vanderpol said, and the gym will follow whatever regulations they need to in order to allow patrons to return. 

“We have members who have been members for years and years,” he said, adding that the gym had people in it 24 hours a day. “Going from that to having no one in here with the lights out has been a change.” 

He said he hopes when the gym reopens, people will be understanding of the limitations still in place under the order. 

The new health order doesn’t mean quite as big of a change for everyone. 

Jodi Hlavka, who runs Little Footprints Daycare, has been shut down since businesses were ordered closed by the state’s earlier health orders. At the time, she only had one child of an essential worker out of the 19 she had enrolled. 

“Right now I’m working at Walmart part-time just to make ends meet,” she said. 

She didn’t qualify for unemployment insurance, she said, because the day care is run out of a church. 

Being allowed to reopen to children of non-essential personnel will be helpful, but Hlavka worries that with school and many other businesses still closed, many of her typical clients won’t need her services. She said schools being closed actually hurts her business because older siblings are able to watch younger ones. 

“It will be a benefit,” she said of being able to reopen, “but that won’t have a huge impact right now.” 

Still, she’s going to try to be open again Friday. If some of her typical families still aren’t in need of child care, her hope is employees of other essential businesses may be in need.