Salon owners face challenges in operating outdoors to meet California pandemic guidelines

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Monday’s announcement of state guidelines allowing personal care businesses to operate outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic came as a relief to some salon owners and stylists in California.

But many in the Los Angeles area expressed apprehension over how they can offer their services outside.

Officials released the new guidance one week after ordering the re-closure of “non-essential” indoor businesses in counties on the state’s watchlist. Those businesses include salons in L.A County, which were already shut down for weeks before being allowed to reopen starting late May.

The guidelines announced Monday outline measures such as providing access to shade and ensuring equipment doesn’t pose an electrical hazard, in addition to implementing facial covering and social distancing rules.

The Professional Beauty Federation of California said the state’s announcement led to confusion, prompting the Department of Consumer Affairs to later issue a memorandum specifying what services salon and barbershops can offer outdoors.

“In short: the County Health Departments did not want waste water flowing anywhere, so they convinced the State to prohibit shampooing and all chemical hair services (yes, coloring), as well as a blanket ban on electrolysis,” said a statement from the association, which has about 5,000 members across California.

Anna Agadzhanyan of “The Look” salon in Glendale said she feared for her business, which she and a partner have been building for a decade.

“I honestly think it’s ridiculous, not only from an operational standpoint, but legal as well,” Agadzhanyan said of the state guidelines. “If your client is sitting for four or five hours, under extreme heat, it’s likely they’re going to have a heat stroke….You have wiring going, people passing by. I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Linet Keshishian of Balayage by Linet said the new rules pose a a major challenge.

“I have a feeling a lot of salons are going to have trouble with it,” she said. “Some of us don’t have any space outside.”

While Dani Lyn of “Trim, a salon” in Studio City has the capacity to accommodate the new outdoor rules, she expressed concern about other limitations.

“Even when we’re able to be open, we’re taking such a financial loss,” Lyn said.

But ultimately, she said she’s glad to be able to offer some services.

“Whatever it is, I’m just very, very happy to work,” Lyn said.

L.A. County reported its highest number of hospitalizations in one day on Monday, with more than 2,200 patients currently being treated at hospitals. Officials also issued a warning to those under 41 years old, who now make up about 53% of coronavirus cases in the region.

“This is the fourth day in the past week that we have reported the highest number of patients being hospitalized,” county health director Barbara Ferrer said Monday. “No matter how young you are, you are vulnerable to this virus.”

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