- October 14, 2021
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – As COVID-19 cases rise across West Virginia, small businesses are now taking steps to protect their employees and other customers.
Hair stylist John Nelson began only accepting fully vaccinated customers this week at his salon in Charleston. Nelson had already been requiring everyone to wear masks, wash their hands and pass a temperature check before entering the salon, but said the new delta variant is making him take this additional step.
Nelson said he is tired of having to conform to everyone who is not getting vaccinated and putting the community at risk. He is hoping this move encourages more people, including many of his unvaccinated customers, to go protect themselves.
As of Thursday morning, only 49.3% of West Virginia residents are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
“If we lose those clients, I am sorry,” Nelson said. “It’s not that I’m doing it because I don’t like them and I don’t care. I’m doing it because I do care and I care about society. I think this is what we need to do to keep everybody safe. It’s not just here in West Virginia, it’s across the world. We are going to have to do this.”
Nelson had originally planned to only take unvaccinated customers two days a month, to protect vaccinated customers and provide enough time to fully clean the salon afterward. However, he decided the vaccine is available to everyone and that he would feel safer only doing the hair of fully vaccinated people.
His goal is to promote vaccinations so society can get back to a pre-pandemic normal. Nelson said he is concerned another wave of the virus due to the delta variant could put the country back into a lockdown, and cancel a number of trips he has been waiting for more than a year to go on with his family.
Nelson said his clients have mostly provided positive feedback on the decision since the new signs requiring proof of vaccination went up earlier this week.
Wanda George has gotten her hair done by Nelson for years, and said the face masks can make getting a haircut a little bit more complicated, but she would rather be safe than sorry.
“I feel safe here with John because I know he was here taking our temperature, washing your hands, keeping the mask on as much as possible,” George said after her Thursday afternoon appointment. “They do a really good job taking care of their clients plus themselves.”
The thought of losing customers with this controversial decision is not concerning to Nelson, who expects to gain back even more people as new customers who want to be in a safer environment. Nelson noted very few businesses are currently requiring people to wear masks or be vaccinated, although the vaccine has proven to be the best way to prevent severe illness or death.
“How many times does somebody get a probiotic, a vitamin that they get at any store, take any other supplement that is not FDA approved?” Nelson said. “They take that without thinking anything about it. So, why are they so against the vaccine? When they will go to a fast food restaurant, they don’t ask what is in the hamburger. They don’t ask what is in the nuggets, they just eat it. Why is there hesitance with the vaccine?”
“I am not doing this to divide anybody,” Nelson said. “I am doing it so we can all get back together and become one again as a society.”
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