Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Contact 90.5 WESA with a story idea or news tip:

Hair Salons, Spas, Gyms And Tattoo Shops Reopen In Allegheny County

Rebecca Frederick
Heart of Glass
Stylist stations will be spread out at Heart of Glass to promote social distancing.

Salons, gyms and spas can reopen Friday after months of restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Some businesses are taking the weekend to ready their locations for appointments and social distancing beginning next week.

Businesses that fall under the personal care category like gyms, hair salons and tattoo shops can operate at 50 percent capacity in the green phase of Governor Tom Wolf's reopening plan.

Credit Rebecca Frederick / Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass hair salon in Lawrenceville will open June 5 for appointments only.

Heart of Glass, a hair salon in Lawrenceville, will open Friday but with only two of their six stylists, according to owner Rebecca Frederick. All six stylists will eventually return but the salon is only taking clients by appointment; no walk-ins will be permitted.

Existing clients can expect to have their canceled appointments rescheduled online in the order they were canceled, according to Frederick. New clients can also visit their website to book an appointment. Frederick said neither the state itself nor the Board of Cosmetology have provided specific pandemic guidance for hair salons, but her customers can expect:

  • Temperature checks at the door;
  • Limited appointments each day to allow for cleaning between appointments;
  • Stations distanced within the salon;
  • Customers and staff must wear masks for the duration of the appointment;
  • Beverage service will no longer be offered; and
  • More leniency on appointment cancelations due to COVID-19 symptoms.

Gyms must also operate at 50 percent capacity, and while the Wolf administration isn’t requiring them to operate by appointments or reservations, it’s strongly encouraged. ASCEND climbing gym on the South Side will move to an appointment format when it reopens June 8. Paul Guarino, the gym’s owner, has been training his staff on CDC guidelines for cleaning and social distancing since Allegheny County entered the yellow phase. 

Credit Paul Guarino / ASCEND climbing gym
ASCEND climbing gym
ASCEND has been preparing its staff for reopening since Allegheny County entered the yellow phase.

He echoed Frederick’s disappointment in the lack of specific guidance from government officials about how to operate his business. Many of his operating procedures were developed using guidance from the Climbing Wall Association. ASCEND will open to members only at first, according to Guarino. Day passes will resume once the gym has a stronger foothold in its new operating procedures.

Starting this weekend, members can register at the gym’s website for a two hour appointment ahead of the gym’s Monday reopening. ASCEND will establish 30-minute cleaning shifts between each set of appointments. Once a member arrives at the gym, they can expect:

  • Masks will be worn by staff and gym members;
  • Members are asked to stay at least six feet apart at all times;
  • Showers and drinking fountains will not be in use except to fill bottles; and
  • Recommendation to wash hands before and after climbing.

Tattoo shops are also reopening in Allegheny County in the green phase. The industry isn’t regulated by the state, but Evan Gealy, owner of Kyklops Tattoo on the South Side, said tattoo shops are no stranger to personal protective equipment. Tattoo artists must pass a blood borne pathogens course before working in Pennsylvania.  

Credit Evan Gealy / Kyklops Tattoo
Kyklops Tattoo
Kyklops Tattoo will be open appointment only starting June 8.

Artists working at Kyklops already wore gloves and cleaned their stations in between sessions. Some appointments, like certain piercings, required surgical masks so Kyklops has those on hand too. Gealy said the biggest change is cutting down on the time customers spend inside the shop and temporarily doing away with walk-in appointments.

Kyklops will reopen June 8. Other new policies at the business include:

  • Answering COVID-19 screening questions in an online form;
  • Wearing a mask for the duration of your appointment (Kyklops will provide customers with masks if they arrive at the shop without one.);
  • Customers must come alone to their appointment unless an aid or guardian is needed;
  • Artist stations are spread out inside the shop to promote social distancing;
  • All pre-appointment paperwork will be done online; and
  • A new security system to cut down on the need for someone to greet customers at the door.

Gealy noted that he had a new air ventilation system installed at the shop to reduce airborne concentration. He’s also relying on customers to hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus.
“It feels like a gigantic weight on my shoulders,” he said. “We’ve done our research but the information does keep changing.” 

Spas can also reopen June 5, and locations like Evolve Wellness Spa in Shadyside has its first appointments set for Friday. The spa has posted an extensive COVID-19 response plan on its website. Customers there can expect:

  • Temperature checks;
  • Masks for staff and clients;
  • Clients must come alone to their appointment;
  • No more than three people in the spa’s waiting area;
  • Clients in at-risk groups are asked to refrain from booking for now;
  • Treatment rooms will be disinfected between appointments and sheets and blankets disinfected before laundering between customers; and
  • Disposable products will be used where possible.

A good rule of thumb is to call ahead or visit the website of the business you plan to patronize to familiarize yourself with its new operating procedures.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.