COVID-19 testing sites limited for hairdressers and barbers

Jennifer Lewke
Created: June 02, 2020 06:43 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Hairdressers and barbers are now allowed to open back up but the Governor’s office has insisted they follow very strict rules including a demand that they get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.  

Hair salons across the region look much differently these days.


All customers must wear masks, all stylists must wear a mask, a face shield, specialty smocks and gloves. While we all know the intention is to try and keep everyone as safe as possible, customers have been a bit surprised when they show up for their appointments.

“I'm going to be in here getting a haircut for 15 or 20 minutes with a girl standing behind my head and she's got a welders mask on it's silly, it's silly,” Eric Carlson told News10NBC.

Jordie Scott is Carlson’s stylist at Bold Brow and Beauty in Greece. Because of capacity restrictions, she’s only able to work half the days she used to and even on those days, she’s only able to see about half the number of clients.

On top of all the new safety regulations salons must meet the Governor is “strongly encouraging” salon owners to “ensure” that employees have been tested for COVID-19 and then he wants them to be tested every 14 days so long as the region remains in Phase Two. 

The problem? Hairdressers and barbers who’ve been showing up at some of the testing sites in our community are being turned away.  

Rochester Regional Health told News10NBC, the only asymptotic people it will test are those preparing for surgery or long-term care employees.  

URMC says it’ll collect samples for return-to-work compliance but the processing of those samples is typically not covered by insurance.

So, both health systems suggest people go to the free site set-up by the state of New York in the parking lot of Monroe Community College.

You can normally get an appointment at MCC within a day or two but, “it's gonna take a lot of time out of the average day because there are other things I have going on and then to sit in a lot that looks like out of a movie to get a test… it's mind-boggling,” Scott said.  

And then, there’s the issue of timing.

“You don't get your results back for five to seven days,” Scott said.  

Which means, theoretically, if a hairdresser is positive for the virus, he or she might not know until they’ve already exposed dozens of clients.

“I think it's absolutely ridiculous, there are other industries out there that don't have to go (for testing) at all and they have way more one-on-one with people,” Scott said.  

The Governor’s office told News10NBC the MCC site normally has next-day appointments available and in most cases, tests are processed in less than five days.  

As for the other industries, like those in the dental field, who don’t have to get COVID-19 testing, that’s apparently because they’re already used to properly using PPE.

“I feel like the whole industry has been singled out for some reason but I mean what would the agenda be,” Carlson wondered.

Scott says she doesn’t have time to think about that, she’s just trying to get to as many clients as she can, as safely as she can.

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