WINCHESTER — Going down National Avenue on Wednesday around noon, pedestrians and drivers alike could spot Michael Cuthrell giving Mac McGrath a haircut on McGrath’s porch.
Cuthrell, also known as the “dreadlock barber,” wore gloves and a face mask as he shaved along the side of McGrath’s head. McGrath patiently sat on a wooden stool while Cuthrell did his careful work.
The scene captured how an ordinary task like getting a haircut has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 23, the Winchester barber shop where Cuthrell works, Eagan & Company, closed following an order from Gov. Ralph Northam that certain businesses, such as hair salons, bowling alleys and gyms, close temporarily to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, some of Eagan & Company’s barbers have gone to the homes of 40 to 50 customers to give haircuts, said owner Travis Eagan.
Cuthrell is currently the shop’s only barber doing home visits now. He gives most of his haircuts outside. He even did one haircut in the woods. Cuthrell said he disinfects his supplies and equipment after every haircut. He also uses a different cape on each customer.
As of Wednesday, the shop is allowed to visit customer homes, based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, Eagan said.
“We’re going to do this until we’re told not to, and we’re keeping in touch with the proper authorities,” Eagan said.
Cuthrell is getting 100% of the profits from each haircut he does while the shop is closed, Eagan added.
The shop pre-screens clients by asking them if they have any symptoms associated with the virus and if they have been traveling.
Eagan asked his employees who aren’t doing home visits to file for unemployment. Barber shops didn’t initially qualify for benefits, but they now do under the $2 trillion stimulus package recently passed by Congress for coronavirus aid. Eagan added that he may apply for a small business loan if the virus prolongs the shop’s closure.
Cutting hair is Cuthrell’s sole source of income to support his wife and two young children. He has been barbering for 10 years.
Going to people’s homes chews into his profits because he has to pay for gas. He also can’t be as productive because he has to spend time on the road. He said he has traveled from Boyce to Stephens City to Berryville.
McGrath, a senior at Shenandoah University studying exercise science, said on Wednesday that it had been two months since his last haircut. He normally gets a cut every week to two weeks, but the coronavirus situation has forced him to prioritize other things, such as getting groceries, keeping his house clean and taking care of his mother in Maryland.
“I feel great,” he said about getting a haircut. These past two months are the longest McGrath has gone without some type of hair maintenance since he began getting regular haircuts about seven years ago.
“You look good, you feel good,” McGrath said. “It’s a freak of nature trying to take care of this,” he said about his hair.