Salons and other personal care services were forced to close by mandate Tuesday to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The office of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a mandate for the closures, which includes hair salons, day spas and esthetics locations, nail salons, barber and tattoo shops, massage therapy offices and tanning facilities, among others.
The order will remain in full force until the governor rescinds or modifies it, states the mandate.
Although the mandate went into effect this week, many salons closed earlier due to the nature of the work.
The owners of Honey Salon, which occupies a 200-square-foot space in a larger building off Mill Bay Road, decided to close their business on March 17.
“We just figured that it was best for our mental and physical health just to be ahead of the game and prevent the spread more, because we are in contact with multiple people a day,” said Karly Sternberg, co-owner of Honey Salon.
With just two salon chairs and a small space, as well as the close-contact nature of haircutting and styling, it was difficult for them to practice self-distancing, which would require them to leave 6 feet of space between themselves and their clients.
“We can only control cleaning and sanitizing so much, and we can't control what people are bringing into the salon,” said Emily Horn, who owns the salon with Sternberg.
Horn said this was the first time their business had to shut down since it opened in February 2019, and since they have worked in other Kodiak salons over the last eight years.
“We could probably get by for another month or two without being open, but after that would definitely be more of a struggle between the salon bills and our own personal lack of income,” Horn said.
The owner of Glow Skincare, Dana Valladolid, also had to close her business.
Because the virus is spread through close contact between people, she did not want to risk having the illness transmitted to herself or others.
“I don't know where people had been and if they had been traveling,” Valladolid said, noting the difficulty of screening clients.
However, closing her shop has given her an opportunity to take online classes and work on bringing skincare events to The Rock.
“I’ve just been trying to take the positive side of this,” she said. “It’s not about sales. It’s about enriching women's lives so they can feel beauty on the inside. I’ve taken this time to help educate myself so that I can educate my clients.”
With shops closing for an unknown length of time, Sarah Phillips, the executive director of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, said the organization is collecting data on the impact of COVID-19 on businesses.
She said that right now the chamber does not have enough information to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on the community, and urges business owners to complete an economic analysis survey posted on the chamber's Facebook page.
She said businesses can reach out to the chamber for help, even if they are not members. The chamber has resources to help businesses obtain Small Business Administration loans, leverage online platforms, and access federal and state resources as well as mentor programs.
To help spur local shopping, Discover Kodiak has launched “Spend $100, Win $100.” When locals spend more than $100, they can be entered into a drawing to win $100 cash each week.
This includes coffee shops, restaurants, in-store purchases and online purchases through local businesses' websites.
To be eligible to win, participants can email pictures of their purchase receipts totalling at least $100 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The drawing is sponsored by different businesses each week and runs through mid-May.
“Our town is going to look so different if our small businesses don't make it,” said Aimee Williams, the executive director of Discover Kodiak, adding that the organization will do whatever it can to help businesses survive.