The employees at Salon Alexis in Alexandria were excited to get back to work Monday after being shut down for two and a half months. The salon and spa, with its 12 stylists, two massage therapists and an esthetician, has been closed since March 18 due to COVID-19 and the governor’s stay-at-home orders.

Lisa Seanger, co-owner and stylist, said on Sunday evening, the day before the salon was set to open, that the staff feels good about opening and are ready and prepared for their clients.

“Everyone is so excited,” she said. “But there are nerves and butterflies. It’s like the first day of school.”

To prepare for opening, Seanger said the staff all came in over the weekend and it was the first time in two and a half months they were all together. She said it was emotional and exciting and at times, they had to remind themselves to keep social distance.

“We did each other’s hair and it was fun and good practice for when our clients come in,” she said. “It kind of took the edge off. For many of us, it is going to be natural to hug our clients. I know it will be hard for us and some hugs may slip in there, but we will do what we can.”

Seanger said at first, the salon was prepared to come back at 50% staff, but after talking with the Alexandria fire chief about the size of the building and the requirements for capacity, they were able to come back at full staff.

However, they will be adding additional time to each appointment so that they can thoroughly clean after each client.

“We should be running business as usual,” said Seanger, who added that clients, however, will see some changes when they come in.

All employees will be wearing masks and masks will be required for their clients. If clients don’t have a mask, the salon will have some available. She also said that plexiglass dividers have been added between the hair washing stations.

Some services have been temporarily suspended, such as magazines available to read while waiting, as well as there won’t be any coffee or beverage service.

Seanger said that the staff is asking that the clients only bring with them what is necessary as there will not be a coat area either.

Clients can wait inside the salon, but they are being asked to remember to social distance themselves. She did say that clients can call the salon to check in and wait in their vehicle if they feel more comfortable doing it that way.

“We want to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible,” she said, adding that for now, they will be focusing on maintenance type services - cuts and easier colors such as highlights and covering the grays.

When COVID-19 hit and salons were forced to shut down, Seanger said a private Facebook group for area stylists was started to offer support to one another.

“There were no rivalries and everyone came together,” she said, adding that some stylists work on their own and don’t have a tribe to fall back on for support.

She said people in the group offered help about so many things, like the challenges and struggles with filing unemployment. She said it became a really good resource and tool for all area stylists and that she was grateful for the camaraderie.

Seanger said the support from the community for the salon is something she is also thankful for.

“We greatly appreciate the amount of support we’ve had – from the amount of gift cards bought and the Facebook well wishes,” said Seanger. “It is so heartwarming to see and we are super grateful.”