Massachusetts residents this week were able to make plans that had been banned for months: They could get a haircut, groom their pet and go to the car wash. And many did so with excitement, leading to long waits and weeks of fully booked schedules, business owners and customers say.
Phase one of Gov. Baker’s reopening plan went into effect Monday, allowing some businesses to reopen with limitations; retail stores can open for curbside pickup, offices outside of Boston can open at 25 percent capacity and some outdoor recreational areas can open, for example. Hair salons, barber shops and pet groomers can now take customers by appointment only.
At GA Barbershop in Foxborough along Route 1, Brenton Dinock of Attleboro sat in his car for nearly three hours waiting for a phone call that would allow him to go inside for a haircut. Anyone who came to the barbershop had to sign in and was told to wait in their car until they were called. And wait they did — some for as long as three hours.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and my hair is getting pretty long,” Dinock said. “It’s better than shaving my head, I guess, so it’s worth the wait.“
Dinock arrived at 8:30 in the morning, and wasn't called until close to 11:30, but he said he didn't mind.
Neither did Jim Feeney, who drove to GA Barbershop from Harwichport on Cape Cod. Feeney says he’s a loyal customer and was willing to wait to see the barber.
“For a good quality haircut, I’ll travel anywhere,” he said.
Under state and CDC guidelines, hot shaves are not allowed and every customer is required to wear a mask.
A little further north on Providence Highway in Walpole, Rojo Car Wash, another non-essential business that was allowed to reopen, saw a steady stream of customers eager to wash the pollen from their cars. Car wash co-owner Tony Fruci said the first day back was anything but business as usual.
“We only do exterior; we don't do interior at all. So, we keep our distance from cars and go through the protocol that Gov. Baker set forth.”
Sandy Bradley, who owns Sandy's Pet Grooming in North Quincy, has grown a loyal customer base since 1993 at her 2,700-square-foot shop. She says it’s been hectic since last Monday, when they got word they would be able to reopen. She said she is rebooking almost two-months’ worth of appointments and is fully booked through June 21.
"It’s real crazy,” Bradley said. “I’m trying to fit everybody in, but you know, I don’t have enough groomers.”
Under state reopening guidelines, pet owners with scheduled grooming appointments drop off their pets curbside. Groomers provide leashes, as owners' leashes cannot be used.
Back at GA Barbershop, Owner Georges Atieh smiled as he cut his customers' hair. He’s glad they’re open again. He said after three months of being closed, his shop will be very busy, but he hopes his customers will be patient.
Feeney, who had waited in his truck for three hours for his turn at the cutting sheers, said he isn’t worried about going to the barber.
“I know there’s a risk going anywhere, so there’s a risk assessment that everybody has to do," he said. "But it should be up to the individuals to make their own choices."