‘This is forcing us to go underground’: Demanding full reopening of CA’s salons, owners rally in Santa Clarita

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A group of local salon owners and employees rallied in Santa Clarita Saturday to demand the full reopening of salons across California, which has restricted operations of personal care businesses in an effort to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state.

“You have stylists, manicurists, aestheticians going into people’s homes that are not properly sanitized,” said Sandi Thomas, who owns Studio Bijoux Salon and Boutique in Santa Clarita. “What this is doing is forcing us to go underground. I have not yet, but that’s what it’s doing.”

Officials allowed salons to reopen in late May after a weekslong shutdown under a statewide stay-at-home order in March. But in mid-July, authorities reordered salons and other “nonessential” indoor businesses in L.A. County and other counties on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist to close their doors.

The state did allow salons and barbershops to operate outside, but many in the industry deemed this unfeasible.

On July 20, the California Department of Consumer Affairs issued a memo indicating that shampooing, electrolysis and chemical hair services such as coloring may not be offered outdoors.

Health officials did not want to allow the flow of wastewater, according to the Professional Beauty Federation of California, which has about 5,000 members.

On Saturday, Thomas took to the street with about 20 others near McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard.

Motorists honked in support as the group waved signs. One read “My salon is cleaner than Walmart” above another message that said, “Newsom discriminates against salons.”

Lauren Goodwin, who owns Chique Salon Studios in Palmdale, told KTLA she wants the state to recognize their businesses as “essential.”

Thomas asserted that salons have followed CDC guidelines, and that their sanitation exceeds that of many other places.

“They’re shutting us down. It’s killing us,” Thomas said. “We don’t get sick time, we don’t get benefits. All of these things to take care of other people, but all you’re going to give us is, ‘You can work outside.’ That doesn’t work for me.”

The county said officials have found a number of businesses, including restaurants, violating health orders and infection control measures. Health inspectors will begin issuing fines at the end of August, authorities said.

As of Sunday, L.A. County has confirmed 4,692 deaths linked to the coronavirus.

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