Having recently recovered from the coronavirus herself, Demi Tsionis, owner of The Studio at 979 Post Road in Darien, said she understands the need to be careful.

While The Studio — and all other hair salons and barbershops across the state of Connecticut — were allowed to reopen for business on June 1, Tsionis is waiting until she tests negative for the virus before coming back to work.

However, her salon is open and staffed by her employees.

“The salon is definitely excited to be back open,” Tsionis said in a telephone conversation from her home Monday morning. “Everybody has been anxiously awaiting coming back in.”

“I can’t imagine what everybody’s roots look like now,” she chuckled.

COVID-19

“I came down with the virus the beginning of May. My family also had it. We just had fever and gastro symptoms,” said Tsionis, who has 3-year-old and 18-month-old children. She’s also pregnant and is due in early December.

Her husband was hospitalized for almost a week.

“His fever wouldn’t go away,” she said. “They gave him antiviral medicine for SARS 1 and plasma from a recovered COVID patient.”

“He’s lucky he is over it,” she added.

Tsionis encouraged those who already recovered from the virus to donate plasma “because it can help someone else,” she said.

Safety precautions

Tsionis said her nine-year-old salon is “going to take every precaution and measure to keep everyone safe.”

Precautions include operating by appointment only, giving temperature checks for everyone who comes in, and wearing personal protective equipment.

The salon has removed everything tangible, according to Tsionis. “All products were taken off the shelves.”

“There is nothing but sanitizer out and things that we absolutely need,” Tsionis said.

Since the salon’s hair stations were already six feet apart from each other, “we were lucky we didn’t have to move anything around,” she said.

Additionally, there is no waiting area. If customers arrive early for their appointment, they may either wait outside or in their car.

The salon won’t be providing blow-drying services, “probably not until Phase 2 of the reopening,” she said. “We then will slowly start to integrate it back in.”

No blow-drying eliminates services such as keratin treatment.

Tsionis emphasized the importance of being patient during this difficult time.

“Please be patient and kind while we adjust to this new normal,” she said. “Everybody is suffering. Everybody is not used to this. Be as pleasant about it as possible. We are all in it together.”

“Spotless and pristine”

“Our place is like a hospital. We can perform surgery in here,” said owner and creative director Jurga Rimkute when describing how her salon, Lanphier, looked on Monday morning. “Everything is spotless and pristine.”

Lanphier, an 11,000-square-foot, full-service spa at 20 West Avenue, opened at 8 a.m. and was busy with customers for the rest of the day.

And the place is pretty booked up.

Prior to reopening, the salon had a waiting list of 300 people, Rimkute said.

“We had to move the customers from March [when we closed] to this month,” Rimkute said.

On Monday, the salon had four color treatments at 8 a.m., and two haircuts.

Since spas are not allowed to reopen yet, Lanphier is open only the hair side.

“We have opened very conservatively,” Rimkute added. “We are just weaning in and will adapt how things go. That’s the plan.”

Expansion, services

During the time it was closed, the eight-year-old salon has expanded.

The salon converted its nail department into a color department. It shrank the nail department and moved it to the spa area and now only offers private pedicure and manicures in the private room “versus everybody being together,” Rimkute said.

All staff are wearing masks and protective eyewear, and customers are wearing masks. There are stations of hand sanitizers.

The salon is using every other chair for customers.

Lanphier currently has 19 styling stations, “so we can take nine customers at a time,” said Rimkute, adding it can take even more customers if it utilizes other areas, such as the styling section.

The salon is leaving enough time in between appointments to properly sanitize all areas.

“We change gloves and disinfect the area before moving to the next customer,” she said.

There are no magazines and newspapers, and no coffee or other beverages are available.

Returning to work

While most of her staff has returned to work, some have not been able to yet.

“We have some moms who have children and because schools are closed, they have nowhere to leave their children,” Rimkute said.

About 95 percent of customers couldn’t wait to get back in, according to Rimkute.

“They are thrilled, excited, grateful and happy to be here,” she said.

“Five percent, however, are still hesitant. They’re still worried,” she added. “Many of them have a health condition and others are older people who are holding out for a later date.”

“We will respect that,” Rimkote said. “It’s not the time for judgment,” she said. “Our goal to make them feel the best as we can and bring them back next time.”

She said it’s very important that the town opens back up again.

“At some point, we need to resume life. We wish we would know the end date of this, but we don’t,” she said. “We want to see what we can do in order to protect everyone and continue moving forward. We are going one day at a time.”

Catching up on life’s moments

Neil Asllani, owner of BonBon Hair Studio at 841 Boston Post Road, said: “Business was great” for the first day back.

“It was the best first day,” he said.

The salon had 40 customers in total: Eighty percent of services were haircuts and 20 percent hair coloring.

During the time it was closed, a lot of customers shared that they had their hair cut by their wife and their mother., according to Asllani.

“The most famous one is a mohawk, and there were some bad hair days,” he said.

According to Asllani, many of his customers had life-changing moments since the salon was last open.

“A lot of our customers became parents — some for a first time and some of them for a second or third,” he said. “All of them are having a hard time working from home and eLearning, but most of them said they had the best time ever with their families.”

He added that the best part of being open again “is a feeling of normality and seeing people who are really ready for normality, being where we love to be.”

sfox@darientimes.com