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Spa Safety in the Age of COVID

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The end of 2020 is now in sight — and the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of slowing down. You may have adjusted to the new normal by now, and while some places are opening back up, and many places are easing up on restrictions and stay-at-home orders. As you emerge from quarantine, you need some time for self-care — a haircut, manicure, massage, or simply some time in the spa.

But is it safe to go to the spa during COVID-19? Experts think that as long as you wash your hands frequently, practice good respiratory etiquette, wear a mask, and maintain social distancing, it should be relatively safe to go to the spa, swim laps in the pool, or get a haircut.

It’s not as safe as staying at home, of course, and you should carefully weigh whether self-care is worth the risk of you or your family members getting sick. If you do decide to go to the spa, pool, or salon, follow these tips to protect yourself and others.

Wear a Mask and Follow Hygiene Guidelines

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure whether the spa or pool facility you plan to use follows recommended sanitation practices, like cleaning and disinfecting, limiting the number of people allowed in a facility at once, and requiring the use of masks and shields. Whether you’re headed to the YMCA to swim laps in the pool or to your favorite salon for a manicure, wear your mask and follow hygiene guidelines.

If you’re swimming, don’t wear your mask in the pool — it’s harder to breathe through a wet mask, and a wet mask isn’t as effective as a dry one, anyway. Maintain six feet of social distance while you’re in the water, instead.

For your own safety as well as that of others, shower before going into the pool, spa, steam room, or sauna, and don’t spit or blow your nose in the pool. Experts believe that the chlorine and bromine used to sanitize public pool facilities should be sufficient to kill SARS-CoV-2, and prevent its spread through the water. Maintain social distance from those you don’t live with while lounging poolside or using spa, steam room, or sauna facilities.

Make Private Appointments When Possible

When it comes to using spas and salons for personal care services, like hair styling, waxes, mani-pedis, and massages, make private appointments whenever possible. Spas and salons in many parts of the country have been able to open back up, but they may be limiting the number of clients they’ll serve at once, serving clients outdoors, or requiring private appointments. If you can afford it and a private appointment is available, it’s safest to get your self-care done in a way that minimizes your contact with others as much as possible.

A private appointment means you won’t be sitting around indoors with several strangers, which can be dangerous even if you follow social distancing guidelines. It can be hard to get appointments, though, and they might be more expensive than they were in the Before Times, so make sure to book in advance if you want a special occasion visit to, say, your hotel spa during your Miami Beach vacation.

Keep Your Distance

It can be impossible to stay six feet away from others when you’re getting your hair styled, or using a sauna. Beauty and personal care staff have to get up close and even touch you, to do their job. But you should maintain your distance as much as possible, and wear a mask to protect yourself and others. Make sure that the facility you’ll be using requires employees to wear masks, too.

Because it’s impossible to social distance in many beauty care settings, some services may be off the menu for now. Many facilities have paused any services that require a technician to touch your face, like facials, threading, eyelash extensions, and the like.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated, many Americans are looking for ways to resume their normal self-care routines. With a few simple precautions, you can use spas and pools in relative safety. Just make sure to stay home if you feel sick, and self-isolate if you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19.