So, my long-time barber just reached out to me. He’s reopened and asked if I’d like to come in for a haircut. He even offered me the option of visiting his home for a trim.
I’d really like to give him some business, but I remain wary about going out, especially for nonessential activities. What do you think?
Dr. Prescott Prescribes
Like just about everything to do with the novel coronavirus, this question comes down to numbers.
So, what are the chances your barber is carrying the virus or recently has been exposed to an infected person? The probability likely was pretty low on the first day he returned to business, as I assume that he, like most of us, had been isolating and socially distancing.
However, with each passing day, as he slowly refills his appointment book with folks attempting to recapture their pre-pandemic coifs, the risk begins to climb. Even if your barber is wearing a mask and gloves, he’s coming into close contact with numerous individuals each day.
Each interaction carries a small possibility of infecting him. And as we’ve learned, many people can and do become infectious before showing any outward symptoms. Indeed, that kind of close contact with numerous clients gives him the potential to become a “superspreader.”
We recently learned that the community spread of SARS-CoV-2 in California began at a nail salon. And from an epidemiological perspective, a barbershop or hair studio is no different from a nail salon.
Obviously, we’re all going to want to get our hair cut by professionals at some point. But for each of us, that risk-benefit calculus will be slightly different, depending on how we weigh factors like our underlying health conditions versus our desire not to look like mad scientists (or attorneys).
Personally, I’d continue to keep with the trim-it-yourself aesthetic in the near term.
If you ultimately opt to go the professional route, though, I’d make sure your barber wore a mask. I’d also take him up on his offer to cut your hair at his home. At least there, you will not come in contact with other clients or your barber’s co-workers.