The closure of Waffle Houses has often been used as an informal gauge of how bad a disaster has become, well the Corps just closed a barbershop over COVID-19, so things are probably looking pretty bad.
Nat Fahy, a spokesman for Marine Corps Installations East, confirmed to Marine Corps Times that a barbershop aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia, has been closed because it’s “currently in a higher threat environment with respect to COVID-19 cases.”
A posting on the Marine logistics base Facebook page says the American Clipper barbershop “closed until further notice” on March 25. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are 1441 COVID-19 cases across Georgia.
The Corps has been criticized for keeping barbershops open across major Marine installations where states have implemented stay-at-home orders and shuttered salons and barbershops.
The Navy ordered barbershops at its exchanges closed and has instituted relaxed grooming standards for hair length to stem the spread of the virus.
Fahy told Marine Corps Times that barbershops across MCI-East bases are still open with the exception of Albany. Barbershops remain open on Camp Pendleton, California, according to the installation’s Marine Corps Community Services website. Other barbershops across the Corps remain open.
“MCIEAST is implementing appropriate safety measures at our barber shops across our installations to ensure the safety of our personnel while maintaining standards,” Fahy said.
Both North Carolina and California have closed non-essential businesses and order folks to stay-at-home as COVID-19 continues to spread. But the Corps has kept barbershops open in these areas.
“As conditions change, installations within the command may consider closing the barbershops based on the recommendations from the Public Health Emergency Officers,” Fahy said.
MCCS Lejeune-New River posted on its Facebook page that some American Clipper barbershops aboard Camp Lejeune and the New River Air Station would expand hours and staff additional barbers to serve an influx of customers as barbershops in town closed.
“Because Marines are still on duty, American Clippers will remain operational aboard Camp Lejeune and New River to serve them,” the posting reads. The barbershops are restricting the number of customers to allow for social distancing.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday he has invested authority in commanders to make decisions with regards to training, grooming standards and closing barbershops.
“Barbershops in one area may be open and on another base they may be closed,” Berger told reporters. The top Marine said he trusted leaders to make those calls. “All commanders have the latitude to make adjustments.”
Berger said recruits headed to the recruit depots are still getting their heads shaved as long as barbers continue to come to work. But he said if things get worse and barbers don’t come to work there might be a situation where Marines cut each other’s hair.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.