Gov. Abbott expanded business openings in Texas on Tuesday afternoon, allowing cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and tanning salons to open on Friday, May 8 and allowing gyms and exercise facilities to open on Monday, May 18.


The E-T spoke with a local hairstylist, tattoo artist and massage therapist to get their take on Gov. Abbott’s recent announcement.


SARAH ELIZABETH COLE WITH BANGS & CO.


Sarah Elizabeth Cole, owner of Bangs & Co. Said she was “almost in disbelief” when she heard the news that salons could open on Friday.


“Up until that point, I had no response from TDLR or the governor or anybody that I had reached out to,” she said. “We were told that he wouldn't speak until the 18th and then all of a sudden, my phone was blowing up from my stylist, my clients and my friends who had been looking out and praying for us. Once the news finally sunk in, I just started to tear up. I felt like I exhaled for the first time in seven weeks.”


Cole said clients need to expect self-screening according to the minimum standard health protocols provided by Gov. Abbott.


“Masks are not required; they’re highly recommended,” she said. “That may be different for other salons but we’re not requiring it, just because honestly for the last seven weeks, I know what it’s like to have my freedom of choice taken away and I'm not going to do that to my clients. I think we can all be responsible and self-screen and proceed our normal life with caution. We just ask that they check in via text message, or calling either their stylist’s phone or the shop phone and to not bring any guests with them to their appointment as we’re trying to keep it one-on-one and minimize persons in the building.”


JAYSON SAMPLE WITH ARTISTIC REALM TATTOOS


Jayson Sample, tattoo artist with Artistic Realm Tattoos, spoke with City Manager Allen Barnes on Thursday morning, gave Barnes a tour of his shop and talked with him about the shop’s sanitation standards.


"Every surface is non-porous. We’re basically like a hospital here,” Sample said. “We have our hand sanitizer available at the front countertops now. Whatever is going to become the new normal, we’ve ordered that ahead of time. We have masks available. We have face shields. We have aprons. I go through a 100 pack of gloves every two days, because if the phone rings or I need to change the show on the TV or somebody comes in, I have to change my gloves again and put a new pair on.”


Sample said he has been in contact with state representative candidate Shelby Slawson, current state representative J.D. Sheffield and Texas Senator Pat Fallon.


“They know about us. They’re talking about Stephenville today [Thursday] in their offices,” he said. “Everyone is aware of what’s going on. They’re pushing hard for the businesses that are still closed. The locals are on our side. They just want everything open in the safest way possible. It’s more the governor leaving out tattoo shops and massage parlors. At this point, we don't have a date to open. Everything else has been given a date that they’re allowed to open.”


Sample believes his tattoo shop should not be put into the same category as bars and strip clubs.


"We’re qualified as business owners to be able to operate,” he said. “We basically work like a salon. At this point, it doesn’t seem like it’s about a virus; it’s an opinionated stigma category because as clean as salons are, they do not operate as clean as we are, and everyone I know that owns a salon in town will agree with that.”


NIKKI LYND WITH GOLDEN BODY WORKS


Nikki Lynd has been a massage therapist at Golden Body Works since May 2015 and she is not happy about Gov. Abbott’s latest announcements.


“It’s just a little ridiculous that massage is still shut down,” she said. “The fact that you can go to a swimming pool or a movie theater, and the fact that we’re not allowed to be open is a little ridiculous.”


Lynd also touched on sanitation protocols that she has to go through on a regular basis.


“We have to change sheets between every client. We wipe down everything and everything is sanitized,” she said. “I went through 10 months of school, studied, went to the board, took a test, got my license through TDLR, so the fact that I have a license and I'm licensed in this business, I should be able to be up and functioning. I don’t understand why I'm not allowed to be.”