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How to Respond to Changing Mask Guidelines as an Independent Salon Owner  image

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As an independent salon owner, you're responsible for some critical decision-making to maintain health and safety while avoiding conflict and discomfort. In this time of COVID variants and shifting mask regulations, we want to make sure you are equipped with options for communicating new salon rules to clients amongst varying comfort levels and circumstances. 

The rise of Delta variant cases has caused the CDC to release updated mask recommendations, which state "everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission to wear a mask in public indoor places, even if they are fully vaccinated."

In the words of the CDC:

  • "Wearing a mask is one way to reduce the spread of Delta and other variants.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask indoors in public at all levels of community transmission. CDC recommends that people who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may not be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. You should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people until advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.
  • People who are NOT vaccinated should continue to take steps to protect themselves."

What does this mean for you as a salon owner? Well, as the owner of your business, you have choices to make about how you will decide to enforce or relax masks in your salon at this time. Different communities and demographics have varying rates of vaccination, comfort without masks, and COVID counts, which makes matters complex at best, and controversial at worst. 

We understand the complexity of this time and we are here for you. As long as your salon policy is within the regulations of your state or local government, the CDC gives local businesses the power to determine their own policies as needed. Whatever you decide is best for you and your clients will ultimately be up to you. 

There are several routes that you can choose to take in managing updated mask policies for your salon: 

1. Follow State/Local Guidance: 

First and foremost, make sure that your salon’s mask policy is in alignment with the state and local regulations governing your business. Just because the CDC guidance has shifted, that does not mean that all states, cities and counties will have the exact same requirements. Be sure to stay up-to-date as state and local regulations change. Ask your Sola peers how they are handling the updated mask recommendations. We are stronger together, so let’s make sure to take care of one another during this shift to the new normal - no Solapreneur left behind!  

If you are following mask guidelines based on state or local guidance, please make sure to communicate that to your clients to maximize receptivity and cooperation. We recommend sending out an email or text message (or both) using a platform like SolaGenius to your clientele explaining the local governance and reminding them that it is for the safety of the community as a whole. 

Sample messaging:

“Hello [insert name here], 

While I understand that the CDC has relaxed mask mandates for vaccinated people, [insert salon name] must continue to act in accordance with local regulations which say [insert local mask guidelines here]. In alignment with local guidance, I am asking that [insert your salon’s new mask policy here]. 

My priority is keeping [insert salon name] 100% safe for clients and the community as a whole. I look forward to the day of mask-free services when the time is right. Thank you so much for your support and understanding as we work through this transition.” 

2. Continue Mask Policy 

As a local business owner, the CDC grants you permission to set your own mask policies for your salon. Different communities have varying levels of immunization, active COVID rates, and vulnerability, which means some people may be more or less comfortable with going maskless. If you are not yet comfortable working with maskless clients or going maskless yourself, it is your right to refuse service to anybody that does not comply with your salon mask policy. 

If you choose to keep your salon fully masked for the time being, we recommend sending out communication via email or text to your clients as a whole and/or to upcoming appointments. 

Sample messaging: 

“Hello [insert name here], 

While I understand that the CDC has relaxed mask mandates for vaccinated people, [insert salon name] must continue our commitment to keeping the salon safe and comfortable for all clients - vaccinated or not. 

I look forward to the day of mask-free services when the time is right, but for the time being, [insert salon name] will require all clients to wear a mask in the salon. 

Please understand that I am considering the most vulnerable members of our community in making this decision by ensuring that they have a safe space to receive services. Thank you so much for your support and understanding as we work through this transition.” 

3. Survey Your Clientele 

If your state and local mask guidelines follow CDC regulations, yet you are still not sure if you want to keep your salon masked or loosen policies for the vaccinated, another option is allowing your clients to determine what is best for your salon. After all, they are the foundation of your business and determine the comfort level of your salon. 

Surveys also provide an opportunity to avoid the vaccination conversation with clients, simply stating that you are working to create policies that the majority of your clients can get behind. If you decide to leave the decision up to your clientele, we recommend sending out a short survey via email or text message asking the following questions. 

Sample survey: 

1. How would you like for [insert salon name] to proceed with mask regulations in the salon? 

A. Mask required for all clients and stylist 

B. Mask optional for vaccinated clients, stylist mask required

C. Mask optional for both vaccinated clients and stylist

2. What would make you feel most comfortable at [insert salon name]:

A. Mask required for everyone

B. Mask required for stylist and non-vaccinated clients only 

C. Mask optional for vaccinated clients and stylist 

If you receive mostly A’s: 

Announce to your clients that your salon is keeping the mask policy in place at this time. Let them know that this is a result of surveying the community, reflecting the feedback of what feels most comfortable for the majority of your clients. 

If you receive mostly B’s: 

Announce to your clients that masks are now optional for vaccinated clients and that you will be continuing to wear a mask to maximize safety and comfort for your clientele. 

If you receive mostly C’s: 

Announce that masks are now optional for vaccinated clients. If you are vaccinated, you can choose to let them know that you have been vaccinated. However, the choice to be vaccinated is a personal decision and you are not required to disclose that information to your clients.

If you are uncertain whether you would like for your clients to know about the status of your vaccination, we recommend choosing to wear a mask regardless of the circumstances. That way, you can avoid the conversation altogether, simply announcing that for the comfort and safety of your salon you will continue to work in a mask for all services. 

4. Email and/or Text Clients Individually 

At Sola, you have the freedom to run your salon as you see fit. So, if state and local regulations allow it, you also have the freedom to decide to address masks on a case-by-case basis. If you choose to go this route, please make sure to take necessary precautions to continue sanitizing your salon between visits for maximum health, safety and comfort. 

For this option, we recommend emailing or texting your clients the following question: 

For your upcoming services at [insert salon name], would you prefer: 

  1. Masks all around: I would like to wear a mask and have my stylist masked as well 
  2. I am vaccinated and would like to go mask-free, with my stylist masked
  3. I am vaccinated and would like to go mask-free, with my stylist choosing to mask or not

You can then save responses in your client notes (we recommend saving them as client notes in SolaGenius), and act accordingly with each client. This way, you can avoid having the conversation in person, and you can avoid any awkward misunderstandings or assumptions. 

If you are not yet comfortable with asking people whether they have been vaccinated or being asked whether you have been vaccinated, we recommend sticking to a mask policy all around. Although it may conflict with the wishes of some clients, this conservative approach avoids sticky situations and unsafe environments where COVID may spread more easily. 

Ultimately, we encourage you to place your health, comfort and safety above all else, and that of your clientele and community. If you run into any conflict or noncompliance, remember that you reserve the right to refuse service to anybody that does not comply with your salon policies. 

We are so proud of how Sola professionals have approached the pandemic with the utmost level of safety and respect, and we look forward to maintaining that level of responsibility as life returns to normal. 

If you are in a bind, remember, your Sola family is here to back you up. If you have any questions regarding masks particular to your local regulations or salon culture, please get in touch with your local Sola franchisee or manager.