A client at Nail Pro Salon, located at 605 US Route 1 in Scarborough, wearing a mask while getting a manicure. Owner Lucille Ferrante said that her customers were eager to make appointments once nail salons could reopen again, but everyone has been respectful of health and safety guidelines. Courtesy photo of Lucille Ferrante

SCARBOROUGH — Lucille Ferrante, of Nail Pro Salon, said that “the minute” the Mills Administration said she could reopen, her phone started “blowing up” with calls and texts from clients.

“I had to send out a mass message saying that I would get to everyone,” she said. “Everyone wanted to be the first client in the salon, but they were all very understanding. Ultimately, reopening was very easy.”

Nail salons had experienced about seven weeks of closure from March to June, and clients are happy to get back into the chair to be pampered once again.

The Mills Administration had delayed the reopening of nail salons, originally scheduled for June 1 in Maine, “after the State of California identified the establishments as a source of COVID-19 community transmission,” an announcement on May 19 said. Nail salons were able to reopen on June 17 in Cumberland County.

With clients eager to get back to regular appointments, A Handful Salon on 89 Mussey Road in Scarborough, didn’t find much difficulty communicating with its customers once the announcement to reopen was made, owner Kelly Simard said.

“We’re on a lot of social media sites and we had been connecting with a lot of customers,” she said. “Some of them we’ve had for 25, 27 years, and we kept in touch with all of them. We have an online booking system, so when we could reopen I sent out mass texts and emails. It worked out really well.”

Simard said she had started preparing her business and private contractors when parts of China began shutting down because of COVID-19. After over 20 years in the industry, Simard has worked through other pandemics, like the avian flu and H1N1, before.

Additional sanitation isn’t an issue for people in the cosmetology industry, she said.

“Even though our country didn’t close (in previous pandemics), we always heightened our precautions,” she said. “Being a cosmetologist, we’re pretty educated on that already. Through the past pandemics, we never had customers come down with anything. We’ve always been big on if you’re sick, don’t come in. For one, we don’t want to get sick ourselves, and we’ve been extremely busy since we reopened.”

Through the entirety of the shutdown, Simard said she found a general lack of communication from the state.

“I watched every day and reached out to statesmen and the commissioner’s office and the governor’s office and got no response,” she said. “It’s hard to manage your business and stay afloat when you can’t make a plan.”

Ferrante said that the one-day notice her business received in March to close down temporarily was “awful.”

“I honestly wish I had been more prepared,” she said.

Simard found that unpreparedness of the shutdown and reopening processes frustrating, she said. If towns had worked with individual businesses, there could have been a more organized procedure with personal guidelines for all businesses to reopen at the same time.

“I wish the governor had used the town a bit more and let us know what the plan would be,” Simard said. “I think they could have managed it a little better. She could have gotten the towns to work with all the businesses because every business is different. I think there’s no business that’s exactly alike, so their situations can cause them to reopen in a different manner. I think businesses could have felt like they had more control by sitting down with someone from their town and learning how to stay afloat, rather than just holding onto the news each week.”

Through the months of shutdown, A Handful Salon’s independent contractors were struggling to get unemployment benefits, Simard said.

“If anything, they learned they need to structure their businesses more,” she said. “Maybe becoming a corporation to employ themselves because they got hit hard. They had to wait months to even apply for unemployment.”

Ferrante and Simard said that their respective clients have been following the new rules and safety precautions without much trouble.

“Our clients have all been really great,” Simard said. “One thing about our industry is that people seem compliant. They want to come in to get their services done.”

Nail Pro Salon only takes one client at a time, Ferrante said, and she has cut back on her hours.

“I’m afraid that if I get (Covid-19), I won’t survive, and I have lot of older clients,” she said. “After everyone leaves, I sanitize. The entire bathroom (gets) sanitized, the door handles — I think I’m overly sanitized, too. I was pretty sanitized before — now I’m overly sanitized.”

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