CHARLESTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) – As cases of COVID-19 increase across West Virginia, small businesses are now taking action to protect their employees and other customers.
Hairdresser John Nelson only started accepting fully vaccinated clients this week at his Charleston salon. Nelson had previously instructed everyone to wear masks, wash their hands and pass a temperature check before entering the living room, but said the new delta variant takes him that extra step.
Nelson said he was tired of having to comply with anyone who didn’t get vaccinated and putting the community at risk. He hopes the move will encourage more people, including many of his unvaccinated clients, to protect themselves.
As of Thursday morning, only 49.3% of West Virginia residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“If we lose these customers, I’m sorry,” Nelson said. “It’s not that I do it because I don’t like them and I don’t care. I do it because I care and I care about society. I think that’s what we need to do to keep everyone safe. It’s not just here in West Virginia, it’s across the world. We’re going to have to do it. “
Nelson had originally planned to only take unvaccinated clients two days per month, in order to protect vaccinated clients and to allow sufficient time to completely clean the salon afterwards. However, he decided that the vaccine is available to everyone and that he would feel safer wearing only the hair of fully vaccinated people.
Its goal is to promote vaccinations so that society can return to normal before the pandemic. Nelson said he feared another wave of the virus from the delta variant could quarantine the country and cancel a number of trips he had been waiting for more than a year to continue with his family.
Nelson said his clients had mostly provided positive feedback on the decision since new signs requiring proof of vaccination increased earlier this week.
Wanda George has had Nelson’s hair done for years and has said that face masks can make the haircut a bit more complicated, but she’d rather be safe than sorry.
“I feel safe here with John because I know he was here to take our temperature, wash my hands, keep the mask on as much as possible,” George said after his Thursday afternoon meeting. “They do a really good job taking care of their customers and themselves.”
The idea of losing customers with this controversial move doesn’t worry Nelson, who hopes to win back even more people as new customers who want to be in a safer environment. Nelson noted that very few companies currently require people to wear masks or be vaccinated, although the vaccine has proven to be the best way to prevent serious illness or death.
“How often does someone get a probiotic, a vitamin that they buy from any store, take another supplement that is not approved by the FDA?” Nelson said. “They take it without thinking about it. So why are they so against the vaccine? When they go to a fast food restaurant, they don’t ask what’s in the burger. They don’t ask what’s in the nuggets, they just eat them. Why is there hesitation with the vaccine? “
“I’m not doing this to divide anyone,” Nelson said. “I am doing this so that we can all get back together and become one again as a society.”
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