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Everyone at Knox County hair salons are required to wear face masks. Other counties say it's optional

Two weeks in to salons being reopened, cosmetologists are busier than ever, but not every seat is filled.

POWELL, Tenn. — On week two of salons being back open in Knox County, it's still not business as usual. Those in the beauty industry are catching up on appointments while following new safety guidelines.

New safety measures in Knox County include wearing masks at all times during those hair and nail appointments.

Kara Koontz, the owner of Bombshells Salon Knox in Powell, said she and her staff have worked tirelessly to make sure clients feel safe and all guidelines are followed.

"It's not business as usual, Koontz laughed. "It's business as unusual now, so we're just happy to be open!"

Inside Bombshells Salon Knox off of Emory Road, not every chair is filled, but the staff is busier than ever.

"We really reduced the capacity in here," Koontz explained. "We've taken stations out, we don't use certain shampoo bowls, so we can allow proper social distancing."

Salons like this one in Knox County have now been reopened since May 1, but a lot has changed since their clients' last cut and color.

RELATED: Salons, barber shops reopen across Tennessee with new guidelines

"When they come in, the first thing they're gonna see on our door are all of the Knox County Health Department posters that have to be seen and pretty much all of the guidelines that we're following," Koontz nodded.

Plexiglass barriers line the front desk, seating is spaced out both inside and on their sidewalk, a health screening station rests on a table as you walk in and all skin care treatments are discontinued.

In Hair and nail salons in Knox County, it's required for customers and employees to wear masks at all times. If that's not happening, the Knox County Health Department has to step in.

"Our team or others will investigate those situations and then educate people and most of the time, that's the only step that needs to be taken," Charity Menefee, Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease and Emergency Preparedness at the Knox County Health Department, said in a press briefing on Friday, May 15.

But, when it comes to other counties, like Sevier and Anderson, which are mandated by the state health department, those salons don't have to require masks for employees and clients. It's up to salon owners' discretion to make masks optional.

Koontz said she'd rather be safe than sorry.

"So we're just trying to make sure that our staff, their customers, their families, stay really, really safe when they're in our space," Koontz said.

RELATED: Tennessee issues guidelines for salons & barbershops in 89 counties to reopen May 6

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