Contra Costa County says they are proceeding with caution when it comes to reopening

Changes Salon and Day Spa in downtown Walnut Creek opened Wednesday, exactly three months to the day after it had to close because of the pandemic shutdown.

That's a long time between hair cuts.

"It's been hard. Who is that person in the mirror," said customer Jo Baietti of Walnut Creek.

Salon owner Bonnie Waters says since the salon announced its reopening, the response from clients has been eye-opening.

"Within an hour there were 150 people on the list. It definitely grew quickly and continues to grow every day," she said. "It's wonderful. It feels like we are getting back to the norm."

Contra Costa County Health Services eased restrictions effective Wednesday to allow hair salons to open provided they follow strict guidelines including social distancing, masks, sanitation. Customers also get their temperature taken.

The new health directive also allows for houses of worship and funeral homes to open for groups of up to a hundred people. But still no hugging.

Oak Park Hills Chapel in Walnut Creek is planning its first large service for Friday. Up until then, groups of 20 were all that was allowed.  Before that eight.  

"When families call now and they're concerned whether they can have a funeral or not have a  funeral, we can comfort them and say yes you can do it," funeral director Brad Magleby.

But the easing of restrictions come even as some key COVID-19 numbers in the county are moving upward.

The rate of people testing positive has risen from two percent in April to 3.5 percent this week. Hospitalization and death rates have also spiked.

The health department said in a statement that it is impossible to  stop all transmission of the virus, but "the health orders are intended to prevent a sudden medical surge that could overwhelm the local healthcare system. At this time, we believe the current timeline is a safe, deliberate approach for our county."

At Insignia hair salon in Walnut Creek , the owner says they are taking every precaution.

"None of us want to get the disease. We don't want to pass it on. We just can't afford to close again," said owner Regina Muslimova.  

County health officials say they are monitoring all the key indicators, and will make adjustments to any reopenings if they become necessary.