Are you on the front lines of the coronavirus? Help us report on the pandemic.
After a two-month lockdown, the first phase of economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis has been underway since Monday in Delaware.
Gyms, restaurants, hotels, and most retail businesses are now able to operate, albeit at just 30% of fire code capacity, under Gov. John Carney’s state-of-emergency modifications.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people such as weddings and graduations are now allowed as well.
But proprietors of a group of industries — who provide what the state considers close-contact personal services — are feeling left out of the revival and have been urging the governor to include them.
One vocal advocate has been Jen Allegretti, a licensed aesthetician who runs a one-room salon in Wilmington that offers facial and waxing services. Allegretti said safety has always been a priority, with many clients suffering from acne, rosacea, or ingrown hairs.
She spoke with WHYY while wearing a face mask and shield at her studio, where cleaning supplies, a sink for handwashing, and signs about not spreading germs are prominent.
“We know how to clean, disinfect and sterilize,’’ Allegretti said. “Now added to this, we have all these extra precautions, like the face mask, the goggles, and face shield to wear.”
Yet unlike hair salons and barbershops, this week aestheticians can take only clients with a documented medical need. It’s the same for massage therapists, nail techs, and tattoo artists.
“It’s no different than a hair stylist working with clients. They’ve allowed them to do it — working 6 feet apart,’’ she said. “We have been using gloves for years and years and years. Tattoo artist, same type of thing. We all have the training for blood-borne pathogens.”
Makeup and tattoo artist Liz Martin called the exclusion preposterous.
“Two hundred and fifty people can get together for a wedding, but I won’t be able to do the bride’s makeup,’’ Martin said while surrounded by photos of beauty pageant winners who have been clients of her Noche Azul Spa in Brandywine Hundred north of Wilmington.
“We’re the ones that know how to protect the public, not these big box stores”
Damian DeStefano, director of the state Division of Small Business, said health officials told him that close and lengthy contact with clients is worrisome.
“It was not our intention to single out any industry, it was because of the health concerns that exist,” he said.
On Friday, DeStefano said operators would be able to see all clients regardless of whether they have medical needs when the governor moves the state to Phase 2, likely later this month.
Carney relented Tuesday, however, announcing that personal care businesses can run at 30% capacity starting June 8.
The governor also declared that Phase 2 will begin June 15, and that retail and other businesses can increase to 60% of capacity.
But under Carney’s Phase 2 requirements, businesses like Allegretti’s and Martin’s, as well as barber and hair salons, must still limit themselves to 30% capacity.