At a tiny corner barber shop in Dexter, people will sit shoulder to shoulder instead of heading outside to wait for a haircut. Customers are less likely, it seems, to wear gloves and masks, to ask about vaccination statuses, or to emerge from isolation looking wild and bearded.
“The last couple of weeks in here, people are more relaxed for sure. Just recently, this whole place was packed full. And I thought: ‘This is like old times,’” said Robin Reed of Reed Barbering, Robin’s on Main Street.
Reed and two employees, Jeannie Hood and Stefanie Kass, were chatting just before closing time on Friday afternoon. The last of their clients had gone for the day and they leaned back in the barber chairs, toward a shallow countertop covered months ago with sanitizers and cleaners, and then stood to sweep clippings about the floor. They weren’t wearing masks — they don’t anymore, unless a customer requests it or wears one himself. Then, they oblige.
Just days earlier, Washtenaw County, home to liberal Ann Arbor and among the bluest in the state, announced it would drop requirements for facial coverings in schools by Feb. 28 as COVID-19 case numbers decreased dramatically across Michigan. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, saying the worst was behind the state, on Wednesday rescinded its mask advisory, enacted in November, when cases were peaking with the predominance of the delta variant.
Michigan is moving toward an endemic state, meaning the coronavirus continues to circulate long-term, but at a more manageable level, said Dr. Christopher Ledtke, a infectious disease specialist with Munson Healthcare, based in Traverse City.
“I do expect over the next few months, cases will continue to decrease to a point where we will have very low levels of community transmission,” Ledtke said early last week. “We are heading there, but we’re clearly not there yet.”