Ready To Go

Kathy Burrow, owner of Kathy’s Hair Design, readies her salon for her next appointment Tuesday afternoon. Governor Greg Abbott reopened Texas hair and nail salons Friday after the COVID-19 pandemic kept them closed for weeks. All open businesses are required to maintain cleanliness standards such as sanitizing between customers and providing hand washing stations. 

Forced to close during the coronavirus outbreak, a second round of El Campo businesses reopened at 25 percent capacity Friday while some have not yet been allowed to open and others are opting to wait.

Governor Greg Abbott’s May 5 COVID-19 order opened hair and nail salons Friday. Gyms, massage therapists and tattoo parlors, however, will remain closed. Abbott’s next update for reopening businesses is expected May 18, as of presstime.

Traveling massage therapist Kasey Lee Knesek lives in El Campo and visits clients in their homes. She has not been able to work due to the pandemic, and worries about her clients.

“A lot of people don’t see the medical side of it,” Knesek said. “I have clients that have severe scoliosis that are hunched over and that’s how they walk daily. They depend on me.”

Abbott’s April 27 order, which reopened the first round of Texas businesses, excluded massage therapists from businesses. The decision was a shock, Knesek said, and she hopes to return to work soon.

“I have some elderly clients that I see, and they either don’t have family close by or they don’t have family at all,” she added. “It’s hard for them.”

Dentist offices were allowed to open May 1, according to Abbott, but the State Board of Dental Examiners set specific rules for reopening. With national shortages of N-95 masks and other gear still prevalent, many offices have not been able to open, including El Campo’s Abby Dental.

“We hope to open again on May 18, if there are no other changes in the current status or orders,” Dr. Kim Huu said. “We are waiting for the new PPE equipment in order to reopen.”

Huu’s office has been closed for about two months due to the pandemic.

“I need to open to serve my patients, but I am not confident that the situation is stable at the moment,” Huu said. “We will take all the measures possible to insure our patients’ and team’s safety and pray for the best.”

Hair salons were excluded from Abbott’s initial order while restaurants, movie theaters, libraries and others were allowed to open at 25 percent capacity May 1.

Beauty Bar owner Rena Shelton hasn’t had a source of income during the pandemic, since she wasn’t allowed to work. She opened her salon Friday, but with some added precautions. “I’m taking (temperatures),” Shelton said. “I have the kind where you just swipe it across their forehead. I’m going to be as safe as possible.”

Taking customer temperatures is not required by Abbott’s order, but is encouraged, along with the use of masks. Requirements for hair salons include providing hand sanitizer, a hand-washing station, limiting the number of clients in the salon and removing magazines from the waiting area.

Shelton served five clients on Friday, and plans to schedule clients in low numbers for now. “I know how safe I’m being, but I don’t know how safe everybody else is,” Shelton said. “We are hands-on ... we’re right in their face. Assuming they’ve got a mask on, we’re still very close contact.”

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