Polis Bans Haircuts, Massages, Elective Surgeries And More As COVID-19 Fight Wages On

David Zalubowski/AP
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis heads to the podium to address a news conference about the state’s efforts to fend off the spread of coronavirus Monday, March 16, 2020, in Denver.

Haircuts, tattoos, massages and manicures are all the latest victims of the coronavirus.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment added them on Thursday to an existing order that's closed restaurants, bars, theaters, and more across the state. That order was also extended through April 30.

Separately, Gov. Jared Polis issued a new executive order Thursday temporarily suspending elective surgeries and other non-emergency medical procedures. In that order, Polis said any procedure that can be delayed “without risk to the current or future health of the patient” would fall under his order and be prohibited from March 23 to April 14.

The order includes any medical, dental or veterinary procedure that can be delayed for up to three months without undue risk to the health of the patient.

“As a state, we are looking at all possible solutions to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of Coloradans and minimizing the duration of the crisis,” Polis said in a release accompanying his orders. “This is a coordinated effort with all state agencies and community partners.”

Polis also ordered the creation of a "special enrollment period" to allow uninsured Coloradans to access the state health insurance exchange and buy coverage. That period will open March 20 and last through April 3. Sign-ups can be done at connectforhealthco.com.

It's the shutdown of even more symbols of a normal life, like barbers, hairstylists and nail salons, that is likely to produce the most immediate impact. Yet, the order closing them until April 30 was anticipated by some businesses and doctors.

At Vixen Lashes and Nail Bar in Fort Collins on Thursday afternoon, manager Erica Reich said while the shop remains open, the owners have anticipated a state order to shut down. Reich said they follow the rules of the state Department of Regulatory Agencies which regulates businesses including salons in Colorado and has been monitoring the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The salon has limited the number of clients, and also cleans and disinfects the shop every 30 minutes, requires workers to wear masks and to use Lysol wipes when passing commonly touched things like pens back and forth. Reich says because the salon does eyelash extensions and deals with people’s eyes, it’s always been cognisant of being extremely sanitary.

Denver LASIK Vision said Thursday that it had already shut its doors to all clients except those who have a medical emergency and that it is not currently doing routine eye exams or LASIK surgery.

The 20/20 Institute in Denver, which typically offers LASIK surgery, is also not doing face-to-face exams except for people who have just had LASIK surgery and need to be seen by a doctor. Shannon Jackson, who works at the clinic, says any doctor who sees a patient wears protective gear.

Jackson said they follow current guidelines from the Colorado Optometric Association, which is advising clinics to suspend non-essential care but are not advising them to close their offices completely. Jackson says workers are doing consultations over the phone and over video and are keeping a list of folks who want appointments and plan to call them back when they resume regular hours.

Polis also required any Colorado business or non-hospital health facility, including construction companies, to conduct an inventory of all protective respiratory equipment including masks and ventilators and prepare to report that to the state.