COVID-19 Employer Information for Beauty Salons and Barbershops

COVID-19 Employer Information for Beauty Salons and Barbershops

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness (see list of symptoms) caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Here’s what we currently know:

  • The main way the virus spreads is from person to person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
More Info for Beauty Salons and Barbershops
  • You may also be able to get it by touching a contaminated surface or object, such as cash or merchandise, that has the virus on it, and then touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not experiencing symptoms.

COVID-19 can sometimes cause serious complications. People at a higher risk for severe illness include:


As a beauty salon or barbershop employer, your workforce might be exposed to the virus when:

  • In close contact (within less than 6 feet) with other people at the worksite, which can include clients, coworkers, vendors, maintenance workers, cleaning workers, contracted licensees, visitors, and delivery drivers.
  • Providing services to clients.
  • Touching or handling frequently touched objects or surfaces, such as cash, merchandise and equipment, and then touching their face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
How You Can Protect Your Staff and Others and Slow the Spread

Evaluate your workplace to identify activities where workers cannot maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from each other and clients. Use appropriate combinations of controls following the hierarchy of controls to address these situations to limit the spread of COVID-19. A committee of both workers and management may be most effective at recognizing all activities that might expose workers to the virus that causes COVID-19.

While protecting workers, it is important to note that control recommendations or interventions to reduce risk to COVID-19 must be compatible with any safety programs, existing rules regarding health and public safety, and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required for the job task. Approaches to consider may include the following:

Create a COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Plan

Review the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings, and the Resuming Business Toolkit for guidelines and recommendations that all employers can use to protect their workers.

  • Continue to follow your State Board of Cosmetology safety and sanitation guidance in addition to the recommendations here.
  • Choose an on-site workplace coordinator from someone working within the salon or barbershop who will be responsible for COVID-19 assessment and control.
    • Include all workers in the workplace, for example: cosmetologists, barbers, hair stylists, massage therapists, estheticians, janitorial staff, maintenance and supervisory staff.
    • If clients, vendors, maintenance and cleaning workers, or workers with contracted licenses enter the workspace, develop plans to communicate with them regarding modification to work or service processes.
    • Notify all workers that any COVID-19 concerns should be directed to the identified coordinator.
  • Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
    • Develop policies that encourage sick workers to stay at home without fear of reprisals, and ensure workers are aware of these policies.
  • Consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of workers as they report to work.

Take action if a worker or client is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19

  • Immediately separate workers or clients who report with or develop symptoms at the facility from other workers and clients and arrange for private transport home. These ill individuals should self-isolate and contact their health care provider immediately.
  • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the workplace. Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared equipment used by the ill person, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces. If other workers do not have access to these areas or items, wait 24 hours (or as long as possible) before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Workers who test positive for COVID-19 should immediately notify their employer of their results.

 Develop hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls to prevent infection among workers. You may be able to include a combination of controls noted below.

  • Engineering Controls (Isolate people from the hazards)
    Alter the workspace by making physical changes to prevent exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • Modify the alignment of workstations where feasible. For example, redesign workstations so stylists, cosmetologists, barbers and others are not facing each other and are separated by at least 6 feet.
      • Move electronic payment terminals/credit card readers farther away from the cashier to increase the distance between the client and the cashier.
      • Consider online payment systems to eliminate any contact.
    • Establish, where possible, physical barriers between workers, and between workers and clients.
      • Use strip curtains, plastic barriers, or similar materials to create impermeable dividers or partitions.
      • When redesigning your workspace, consider using every other chair if moving chairs or adding barriers is impractical.
    • Make sure the workspace is well ventilatedexternal icon.
      • If the salon or barbershop has special ventilation, such as ventilated tables or portable ventilation units, they should be used.
      • Discourage the use of personal fans and blow dryers as they have the potential to spread any airborne respiratory droplets that may contain the virus that causes COVID-19.
      • Small business owners, renters and managers should work with facilities management to adjust the ventilation so that the maximum amount of fresh air is delivered to occupied spaces while maintaining the humidity at 40-60%. If possible, work with facilities management to initiate actions related to the building ventilation systempdf iconexternal icon in diluting concentrations and/or minimizing viral aerosol disseminationexternal icon.
      • Generate clean-to-less-clean airflowpdf iconexternal icon by re-evaluating the positioning of supply and exhaust air diffusers and/or dampers. Place staff in “clean” zones relative to higher-risk areas such as visitor reception.
      • Consider the use of natural ventilation (i.e., opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air dilution of indoor air. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses safety and health risks, when outside temperature and humidity are at uncomfortable levels for building occupants or when contaminants are present such as carbon monoxide, molds or pollens.
      • Additional considerations for improving the building ventilation system can be found in the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings.
    • Close or limit access to common areas where workers are likely to congregate and interact, such as break rooms, outside the entrance, and in entrance/exit areas.
      • Remove or space appropriately the chairs in the waiting area and break rooms to promote social distancing.
      • Discontinue self-serve, complimentary beverages.
    • Use visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, and signs to remind workers to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others, including at their workstation and in break areas.
      • Consider these cues for clients as well, such as at the entrance and checkout line.
    • Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol in multiple locations throughout the workplace for workers and clients.
      • Use touch-free stations where possible.
      • Make sure restrooms are well stocked with soap and a way for people to dry hands.
  • Administrative Controls (Change the way people work)
    Provide training and other administrative policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    • All workers should have a basic understanding of COVID-19, how the disease is thought to spread, what the symptoms of the disease are, and what measures can be taken to prevent or minimize the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • Training should include the importance of social distancing (maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet or more when possible), wearing cloth masks appropriately, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, not sharing personal items or tools/equipment unless absolutely necessary, and not touching their face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
    • Workers should be encouraged to go home or stay home if they feel sick. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance, and that workers are aware of and understand these policies.
    • Require the use of cloth masks in the salon or barbershop, as appropriate.
      • Cloth masks are intended to protect other people—not the wearer. They are not considered to be personal protective equipment.
      • The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing. A universal face covering policy can be effective in preventing the transmission of the virus in close-contact interactions, including within a salon.
      • Emphasize that care must be taken when putting on and taking off cloth masks to ensure that the worker or the cloth mask does not become contaminated. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the mask and wash hands immediately after.
      • Cloth masks should be routinely laundered.
      • Cloth masks should not be worn if their use creates a new risk (e.g., interference with driving or vision, or contributions to heat related illness) that exceeds their COVID-19 related benefits of slowing the spread of the virus. Cloth masks should also not be worn by children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the mask without assistance. CDC provides information on adaptations and alternatives that should be considered when cloth masks may not be feasible (e.g., people who are deaf or hard of hearing, have intellectual or developmental disabilities, or sensory sensitivities).
      • Consider requiring visitors to the workplace (e.g., service personnel, clients over the age of 2, people accompanying a client) to also wear cloth masks, as appropriate.
    • When scheduling and confirming appointments, inform all clients to cancel and reschedule their appointment if they are not feeling well.
    • Consider maintaining small groups of workers in teams (cohorting) to reduce the number of coworkers each person is exposed to.
    • Consider staggering shifts so that empty workstations can be placed between active workstations.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
      • Use products that are EPA-registeredexternal icon, diluted household bleach solutions, or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, appropriate for surface disinfection. Continue to follow existing state rules with regard to approved disinfectants.
      • If surfaces are dirty, clean them using a detergent or soap and water before you disinfect them. Multi-use non-porous implements (e.g. shears) must always be cleaned before disinfection.
      • Provide cleaning materials and conduct targeted and more frequent cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (stylist chairs, shampoo sinks, massage tables, countertops, doorknobs, toilets [including handles], tables, light switches, phones, faucets, sinks, keyboards, etc.).
      • Shared workspaces should be cleaned after each use.
      • If using a common workspace, such as areas to mix hair dye, it should be cleaned after each use and the dye should be collected and mixed at the worker’s personal workstation.
    • Clean and disinfect all workstation surfaces and tools between clients.
    • Limit the sharing of materials such as clip boards, pens, or touchscreens, if possible.
    • Disinfect clip boards, pens, touchscreens, and counters after each client.
    • Use devices that do not require the worker to handle client credit and debit cards and institute a cashless policy. If this is not possible, ensure that cash and/or cards are handled with care by workers by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or changing gloves between each transaction or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol between clients.
    • Provide workers adequate time and access to soap, clean water, and a way for people to dry hands for handwashing.
      • Remind workers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, they should use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
      • Provide hand sanitizer, tissues and no touch waste baskets at the cash registers and in the restrooms.
    • Maintain social distancing in the beauty salon or barbershop, including at cash registers, whenever possible.
    • Limit the number of people in the beauty salon or barbershop. (Consult state and local guidance if available.)
    • Remind workers that people may be able to spread COVID-19 even if they do not show symptoms. Consider all close interactions (within 6 feet) with workers, clients, and others as a potential source of exposure.
    • Consider limiting “walk-ins” by requiring appointments.
    • Consider closing waiting areas and discourage clients from entering prior to their appointment.
    • Encourage clients to wait in a personal vehicle or outside where they can be contacted by mobile phone when it is their turn.
      • Make sure clients can maintain at least 6 feet of distance while waiting for their appointments.
    • Consider having a dedicated staff member at the entrance to implement the policy.
    • Consider conducting in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of clients before they enter the facility.
    • Post signs and reminders at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on social distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette. Signs should be accessible for people with disabilities, easy to understand, and signs for non-English speakers should be included as needed.
    • Communication and training should be accessible for people with disabilities, easy to understand, in preferred language(s) spoken or read by the workers and include accurate and timely information.
      • Emphasize use of images (infographics) that account for language differences.
      • Training should be reinforced with signs (preferably infographics), placed in strategic locations. CDC has free, simple posters available to download and print, some of which are translated into different languages.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • PPE is the last step in the hierarchy of controls because it is more difficult to use effectively than other measures. To be protective and not introduce an additional hazard, the use of PPE requires characterization of the environment, knowledge of the hazard, training, and consistent, correct use. This is why special emphasis is given to administrative and engineering controls when addressing occupational hazards, including when applying guidance to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • In the current COVID-19 pandemic, use of PPE such as surgical masks or N95 respirators is being prioritized for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. Gloves are not recommended unless they need to be used while performing normal job tasks such as handling chemicals. Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
How You Can Help Your Staff and Others Cope with Stress

Mental health is an important component of worker safety and health. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges in the ways many people work and interact with others, which may lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Information and resources about mental health, recognizing signs of stress, taking steps to build resilience and manage stress, and knowing where to go if you, your staff, or others need help are available here.