Beauty salon group sues Newsom over coronavirus closures

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An industry group representing licensed beauty professionals in California is suing Gov. Gavin Newsom over his coronavirus rules, which could keep their businesses closed several more weeks or months.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in a push to open salons and barbers shops ahead of other higher-risk workplaces in stage three of the governor’s reopening plan. California is currently in phase two, with only some lower-risk workplaces allowed to reopen with modifications.

The Professional Beauty Federation of California said it filed the suit on behalf of the more than 500,000 licensees it represents across the industry, including hair salons, spas and treatment centers, barber shops, nail salons and beauty colleges.

The organization’s legal counsel, Fred Jones, says state orders violate their constitutional rights under the equal protection clause by classifying some businesses as essential but others as non-essential.

“We tried the diplomatic and political avenues to convince them to reconsider that timeline,” Jones said of the governor’s phased plan. “It resulted in letter going out to all our half-million licensees on May 1, threatening to shut their salons down if they tried to open in defiance.”

Paul Mantea, who owns Paul Mitchell The School Sherman Oaks, said the impact is tremendous for him and his more than 200 students.

“He has to provide safety, but he also has to make sure that the businesses will not go broke,” he said of Newsom.

But officials have said more safeguards will need to be in place before higher-risk businesses like movie theaters and salons can open — including more widespread testing and better contact tracing — to ensure they can protect customers and themselves.

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