Business will look a little different at Ames’ Pure Luxe International Salon and Spa when it opens its doors this weekend, but for owner Terri Ford, being able to open at all is great news.


After being ordered to close for nearly two months, Pure Luxe will be one of many businesses allowed to reopen Friday after Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday she is lifting mandated closures of barbershops, salons, massage therapy, and tattoo businesses statewide.


Reynolds’ order comes a week after she lifted closures or major restrictions on restaurants, fitness centers, race tracks and libraries in the 77 Iowa counties — including Story County — with lower rates of coronavirus infection. The easing of restrictions and new reopenings will apply to the remaining 22 counties, as well.


Reynolds’ announcement came in a press conference where she featured Tom Durkin, owner of Ames Fitness Center, via a video phone call, as an example of a business owner who has been complying with state requirement intended to “protect their members and still deliver services that promote healthy lifestyles.”


Durkin said he and his staff “have put in all the protocol that you have developed.”


“We’ve marked off the exercise equipment, every other piece of exercise equipment, to help with social distancing,” Durkin said. “We’ve done the same thing in the locker rooms and throughout the facilities, we have all our employees wear a mask. Were taking all our employees’ temperatures when they come to work each morning. We are shortening some of the activities in the fitness center so we’ve got more time for enhanced cleaning.”


Reynolds on May 1 had also allowed dental services to resume and campgrounds, drive-in theaters, tanning facilities and other businesses to reopen if they met certain requirements. As with those being allowed to reopen this week, they must take the sort of precautions Durkin outlines, including limiting capacity to below 50% of fire code and operate under social distancing and increased hygiene requirements.


“Over the last two weeks we have continued to monitor by receptivity statewide and in the 22 counties where restrictions remained in place, and we’ve seen significant progress,” Reynolds said during the press conference. “Therefore effective May 15, all restrictions currently lifted in Iowa’s 77 counties will be expanded statewide.”


Barbershops and salons have been closed throughout the state since Reynolds announced her initial state of emergency proclamation on March 17. Hearing the governor’s decision to reopen those establishments on Wednesday made Ford “extremely happy.”


However, she also said her businesses will not take safety lightly once customers begin to walk through the door again; Pure Luxe will be implementing precautions that include using only every other chair, increasing sanitation, purchasing extra capes and towels, and using personal protective equipment.


“We just want to make sure that we do everything we can to keep both our guests and staff safe,” Ford said. “We’re excited to see everybody and we’re happy that we can get back to a little bit of normalcy safely. And we’re excited and looking forward to seeing what our new normal is really going to look like.”


She acknowledged there is some risk.


“No one wants to get sick and we don’t want to be the cause of anyone being sick,” she said. “At the same time, we have families to support and households to run, and we can’t do that with no income. So, I mean, it’s a tricky call, but we’re going to do the best we can with the guidelines we’ve been given, and just continue to give people the Pure Luxe experience with an enhanced focus on health and safety.”


Pure Luxe plans to open Saturday, and will prioritize clients whose appointments had been rescheduled throughout the closure.


At The Groom Room Men’s Hair Company, the news brought both joy and relief to owner Troy Tinnean, who was in a frenzy Wednesday preparing for the grand reopening and taking appointments.


“I was really relieved,” said Tinnean on his reaction to Reynolds’ announcement. “Although we won’t be able to do beard trims, mustache trims or facial stuff, we’re just happy to go back to doing hair cuts.”


Tinnean said although barbershops and salons already have extremely strict cleanliness guidelines, his shop will implement some new procedures when it opens Friday to ensure the safety of customers and staff, such as requiring customers to wear masks and wash their hands after checking in and keeping the waiting area closed for the time being.


At Leedz Salon in Northwest Ames, which plans to open Saturday, the phone has been ringing nonstop since the governor’s announcement, said owner Doug Ziminski.


“We’ve been taking appointments all day long, and it’s a good thing because all of our customers have expressed their happiness to see us again. So it’s kind of like a breath of fresh air for us,” Ziminski said. “Everyone here at Leedz, whether you’re a customer or employee, is like a whole community, and we’re so connected, so it’ll be good to see everyone again and give each other a virtual hug.”

Since all three of the Ames establishments were forced to close, the owners said they’ve been constantly hearing from customers hoping to schedule an appointment. And although the process has been an inconvenience for both customers and staff, Tinnean said he agreed with everything the governor has done to this point.

“(These last few weeks) have been a challenge, and we’re blessed to be as busy as we are … I think the COVID situation has been handled the best that it possibly could, and nobody has a perfect answer for this, but I’ve been very pleased,” Tinnean said.

Reynolds said Tuesday she’s confident business owners throughout the state will be responsible as they work toward reopening and operating their businesses once restrictions are officially eased on Friday.

“They want to make sure they put all the measures in place, not only to protect their employees but to ensure … their patrons, as well as their communities,” she said. “I’m confident in Iowans to do the right thing.”

Critics, including Democratic legislators, have accused her of moving too quickly to reopen while the state’s epidemic continues to worsen. But supporters like Durkin, the Ames Fitness Center owner, said he believes like Reynolds that customers will be responsible — and that the opportunity to get some exercise is helping to keep them healthier.

“What we’ve found, governor, is that the people that are coming in, there’s been so much in the press about the virus that they’re self-policing themselves that the social distancing for us has not been a problem,” he said during the press conference. “… And also we believe that exercise strengthens the immune system and helps combat (stress), so it’s been positive.”

“We’re making strides,” he added, “and every day gets better.”

Des Moines Register reporters Nick Coltrain and Ian Richardson contributed to this report.