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Roots showing? Oregon governor may have a plan for that

Gov. Kate Brown's office releases draft guidelines for hair, nail, massage, tattoo and other salons.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Paul Knauls, Jr., owner of Geneva's Hair Salon, in a 2017, pre-pandemic photo.
Hair, nail, massage, tattoo and similar salons might reopen with strict requirements to keep apart and follow extensive hygiene procedures, according to COVID-19 draft guidelines posted Tuesday on Gov. Kate Brown's website.

Draft guidelines for restaurants and bars also have been updated to delete the suggestion that they collect patron information for potential use by public health officials in tracing who came in contact with an infected individual.

That had drawn strong opposition from eating and drinking establishments.

"The idea of patrons having to sign their name or address if they're coming to eat at the restaurant is very much opposed by the restaurateurs," Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock said earlier this month, adding that there is a fine line between protecting public health and preserving citizens' rights.

However, the governor's proposed guidelines for personal service businesses would have that requirement. Such businesses would need to collect that client information and retain it for at least 60 days.

In addition, the overall draft guidance for Oregon employers still retains the provision: "Consider keeping a record of name, contact information and date/time of visit for customers/visitors for purposes of contract tracing if needed."

The state has been working on draft guidelines for health care services, transit, retail, restaurants, personal services, child care and early childhood education, and outdoor education. They also are looking at providing meeting guidelines for faith-based organizations and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Legislators have been told that the governor's office might formally release the main Phase One guidelines on Thursday, May 7. Brown is scheduled to continue her calls with county officials on Wednesday, May 6.

The reopening guidelines are being developed by Brown and her staff in consultation with other agencies, medical and business advisory groups and local officials. Brown has said some counties with few COVID-19 cases might be able to reopen certain businesses and facilities as soon as May 15, once granted approval by the governor.

The five-and-half-page draft for personal services includes these requirements for providers:

• Limit the number of occupants and keep everyone at least six feet apart except when necessary for a provider to give a client such services as a haircut or massage.

• Serve only clients who make appointments. Have clients wait in their cars or elsewhere until it is their turn.

• Contact clients before their appointments to ensure they are not showing COVID-19 symptoms.

• Wear face coverings when providing direct client services.

• Wear a clean smock for each client and, if applicable, drape each client in a clean cape.

• Wash hands between clients; ask clients to wash hands before receiving the service; and wash hands after using the phone, computer, cash register or credit card machine.

• Remove "unnecessary items" from the premises, such as magazines, newspapers, service menus, paper products, snacks and beverages.

• Follow specific regulations on training and sanitation, as spelled out in the guidelines.

Customers also would be encouraged to wear face coverings. The draft states: "Some services may not require the client to wear face covering; for example, a client does not need to wear a face covering when face-down on a massage table. Some services, such as mustache or beard trims, may require the cloth, paper or disposable face covering to be temporarily removed."

The guidelines also suggest that employees change clothes between clients "if providing services that require extended close client contact such as massage therapy and tattoo artistry" and when leaving the business at the end of the day.

Dick Hughes is a freelance journalist who has covered Oregon issues since 1976. Contact him at TheHughesisms@Gmail.com.