On the day Elle's Beauty Bar in Cranberry, Pa., reopened, Sarah Burger, 38, treated herself to a manicure and pedicure with floral nail art.
"I was really excited for the nail techs to go back to work and to be able to support small businesses," the Cranberry woman said. "It felt really safe, and everybody was compliant. It was a good atmosphere."
Even better, it reminded her of her mother, Chris Bhandari, of Murrysville.
"My mom passed away in 2015," Burger said. "One of the things that was really important to her was she always had her nails done. After watching her for years, it's just something you have on all the time to make you smile."
Temperature checks, signed medical waivers, face masks and mandatory hand sanitizing are the new normal for nail salons across the region. Don't expect relaxing spa beverages and sweet treats to snack on while being pampered, though. They don't fit in with safety measures put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Nail salons were permitted to open their doors last week for the first time since mid-March when counties across Western Pennsylvania entered the green phase of coronavirus guidelines. Salons are operating at 50% capacity to allow for social distancing. Most owners have added plastic shields at workstations between nail technicians and clients and have required everyone to wear masks. Having clients wait outside instead of in a waiting room for appointments is another common temporary change.
The changes haven't stopped clients from clamoring for nail appointments. Many are simply happy to be able to return to their favorite salon.
Kelly Hahn, 37, of Bridgeville is a regular at LaLa's Salon & Spa's locations in Monroeville and East Liberty. Her scheduled, standing appointment happened to land on LaLa's first day back in business.
"They're really more like my friends at this point," she said. "The salon on a normal day without this pandemic going on is very clean, so I didn't have any hesitation at all."
Salon owners said that most clients have adapted to the new protocols.