By Beth Germano

BOSTON (CBS) — At Lord’s and Lady’s hair salon in West Roxbury, there is nothing but empty chairs, as the business was closed this week out of safety concerns. It’s part of an industry now being cut to the core.

“We’re one of the few industries where we touch people all the time. We’re so close, we can’t be six feet apart,” said salon manager Louise Rusk.

It’s part of a chain of salons in three states. Now 500 employees have been furloughed, including hair stylist Sophie Forsyth, who filed for unemployment benefits Thursday and is bracing for the impact.

“It’s extremely difficult,” she said. “I’m going to have to dip into savings, which is unfortunate, and trying to minimize spending.”

At Images, a smaller West Roxbury salon, owner Cheryl Smith-Rolfe has stayed open, trying to help her dedicated clientele.

“I’ve been doing June’s hair for 30 years. If she can come in, I can come in,” she said.

She’s taking every cleaning precaution, and while business has slowed, there’s demand for hair care.

So far Massachusetts has not ordered hair and nail salons and barbershops to close. But given the nature of their business, some have questioned why.

“I think there are just as many hair salons as restaurants and bars. They were closed down immediately and got a lot of attention,” Rusk said.

At Philosophe hair salon in Dedham, owner Christina Elfar is getting creative by putting together color kits for clients that she’ll deliver for touch-ups at home.  She also decided to close her salon, but is looking for anything to help.

“I’m not doing this expecting a huge turnout financially. I have faith it will turn around and get better,” she said.

Beth Germano

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