How The Great Clips Incident Saved the Industry


A few weeks ago, two symptomatic stylists at a Missouri Great Clips served roughly 140 customers. Ever since, I have been holding my breath, waiting for the test results to come back. The entire industry’s immediate future hinged on them. Positives most certainly would have justified keeping our businesses shut down until the widespread distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

Thankfully, every single one of the Missouri Great Clips clients tested negative for COVID-19.

Only 46 of the clients were actually tested. The remaining clients were quarantined for two weeks and had their symptoms monitored twice daily. While an estimated 1/3rd of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic, I find it difficult to believe every single client who wasn’t tested also happened to be asymptomatic. It’s far more likely that none of them were infected at all. The CDC and county health officials appear to share that assessment.

The conclusion: Masks work exceptionally well at preventing the spread of coronavirus. Masks, routine disinfection, continuing to follow social distancing protocol, and washing our hands could be enough to stop the pandemic almost entirely. There’s a real possibility we could eradicate this virus if everyone would just follow the damn protocols.

Are social distancing and disinfection protocols exhausting? Definitely.
Are they expensive? Absolutely.
Are they worth it? Without question.

We can beat this, but more importantly, we can do so without shutting down our businesses indefinitely.

So, how did Great Clips save the industry? By demonstrating a worst-case scenario (infected, symptomatic employees) in a salon complying with social distancing protocols, Great Clips has shown that we can safely serve the public. With salons still shut down in several states, this incident absolutely destroys any argument for continued closures…at least for hair services. (Face-to-face services like lashing and facials are still very questionable.)

If you are inclined to petition your lawmakers about lifting restrictions on salons, you should now feel empowered to do so utilizing this data. Stop trying to leverage politicians with personal stories of financial hardship and your fears of the long-term economic impact of shelter-in-place orders–those arguments are not and have never been strong enough to justify the risk of spreading a deadly novel virus in our communities. Instead, focus on the facts here: two masked, symptomatic, COVID-19 positive stylists spent eight full days working on masked clients and did not infect a single one of them.

If you have been refusing to wear a mask, now is the time to grow up and stop that asinine nonsense. We now have extremely convincing evidence that masking is too effective to reject. You are not edgy, cool, or intelligent for refusing to do the bare minimum to protect yourself, your clients, and our industry’s reputation.

Please cover your face holes so we can all enjoy something resembling normalcy while we await a vaccine. Thanks.

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


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