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Knox county salons, barber shops to open Friday while surrounding counties fear loss of business

Shop owners will have to take extra safety measures and follow social distancing guidelines.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When Doug McNelly learned he could reopen his barber shop, it was a huge feeling of relief.

"Going without income has been the hardest thing for that long. It's been pretty hard," he said.

His store, Mac's Barber Shop in Karns, has been closed for six weeks.

All salons have, including Textür Salon & Spa in Maryville.

"I've done hair 20 years this has definitely been a new experience for all of us," said Textür co-owner Carey Cooley.

The difference is McNelly can reopen on Friday, May 1 and Cooley can't.

"I don't think that anybody really needs to reopen right now just because I don't feel like this has probably ran its course as well as what we hoped," said Cooley.

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Knox County and Knoxville's reopening plan said salons and barber shops can reopen May 1 so long as they follow social distancing and health guidelines, including sanitizing surfaces between each client.

"I want us to just cut one person at a time and nobody waits inside," said McNelly. "We're gonna be wearing masks and gloves and I'm pretty sure I think the customer might have to wear them, too."

All the counties around Knox have not been told when they can reopen.

Governor Bill Lee said Tuesday he will be issuing a new order that addresses close-contact businesses, like salons, once his stay-at-home order expires on April 30.

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As Knoxville reopens in the meantime, Cooley fears her customers will find new options.

"To go from potentially losing our clients because somebody else can open and we can't, it's very disheartening to understand that we could potentially lose that client forever," she said.

McNelly is telling people in other counties not to come here. Wait it out for your local barber or hairdresser instead.

"As a barber and having my own business I want them to wait for their barber so they can help them out," he said.