Employees of hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other one-on-one service businesses in Eau Claire County will be required to wear masks, limit their number of clients and follow other requirements as they reopen, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department said in a new order Monday.

The new order mandates new requirements for one-on-one, personal services “that by their very nature cannot maintain six-foot physical distancing,” the Health Department order states.

The new requirements in Monday’s order don’t impact restaurants, retailers or other businesses that don’t require employees to have prolonged, up-close contact with other people.

However, all businesses in Eau Claire County must still adhere to the social distancing, masking and client screening requirements set in the county’s original order, issued Thursday.

“In a place where there’s going to be a longer contact, have physical distance,” said Lieske Giese, director of the Health Department, at a news conference Monday.

“A simple example in a restaurant is standing a distance away when taking orders, if their order takes any amount of time. Delivering food to the table can happen very quickly.”

Under the new order that applies to one-on-one service providers:

  • Providers that have prolonged close contact with customers (within six feet) must only see 10 or fewer clients per day.
  • Providers have to wear cloth face coverings at all times when they’re in close contact with customers, and the Health Department is recommending the use of face shields.
  • Clients must wear face coverings “when feasible based on the service being performed.”
  • Workers must take their clients’ full names, addresses and phone numbers to help with contact tracing.
  • Inside a business, the number of clients must be limited; every client or household unit must have six feet of physical distance and 144 square feet of space.
  • Work stations must be at least six feet apart.
  • Workers must sanitize chairs, equipment and tools between clients.
  • Walk-in services are prohibited, and appointments must be scheduled in advance.
  • Clients must wait in vehicles, or outside with six feet of physical distance. Waiting areas must be closed.
  • Businesses must review symptoms of COVID-19 with their staff and clients every day. If an employee is experiencing symptoms they must be sent home; if a client is showing symptoms, they should be declined service and recommended to get tested.

The new requirements only apply to “a small percentage of businesses that can’t supply services” from a distance of six feet, Giese said: “I think we all understand what those are: Personal service businesses that don’t have another choice.”

With the new order, there’s a lower risk of getting infected with the coronavirus by visiting businesses, but “it does not eliminate risk entirely,” Giese said.

“If someone chooses to get a one-on-one personal service … there’s risk to both that service provider and to the individual undertaking that service,” Giese said.

The chance of having to enter mandatory quarantine also goes up with one-on-one businesses. If a worker giving prolonged one-on-one service tests positive for COVID-19, anyone who received service from that person in a certain timeframe will also have to quarantine at home for 14 days, Giese said.

The same is true for customers: If they test positive, any one-on-one service provider they’ve visited will also have to enter mandated quarantine.

People at higher risk for complications of COVID-19 — including the elderly, immunocompromised and people with some chronic medical conditions — are being encouraged to stay away from those one-on-one services for right now, Giese said.

The county’s original COVID-19 order, which went into effect Thursday, is still in place. It allows all businesses, public spaces, playgrounds and campgrounds to open if they meet several requirements on social distancing, screening and numbers of guests. Those requirements include, among other rules: People must be six feet apart except for brief contacts (not including household units), and businesses must allow 144 square feet per household unit and keep only the number of employees who are strictly necessary for operations.

The full Eau Claire County order can be found at eauclairewi.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=32507 and at covid19eauclaire.org.

Law enforcement and Health Department staff have already responded to several complaints over the county’s COVID-19 order, Giese said, but instead of enforcing the order with a citation or documentation, those businesses and people were given information.

“We’re counting on businesses doing this right,” Giese said. “We don’t have capacity to send a public health team out to review practices at every single facility we have, both those at personal service facilities and those that are not. We’re counting on people ... calling with questions where they can’t figure out how to do it quite right.”

People with concerns can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline, 715-831-7425.

Increase in county cases

Eau Claire County has found nine new cases of the virus since Friday, 76 in total. Countywide 3,802 tests have been done, with 213 tests done since Friday, Giese said.

As of last Wednesday, 40 county residents who had COVID-19 are released from isolation.

The Health Department will likely begin releasing the ages of county residents who have been infected with the virus as cases increase, Giese said.

The state is reporting 144 new cases of the virus as of Monday, for a total of 12,687. Statewide, 2,068 with the virus have been hospitalized and 459 have died, an increase of six deaths since Sunday, according to the state Department of Health Services.

Contact: 715-833-9206, sarah.seifert@ecpc.com, @sarahaseifert on Twitter