With the continued government mandated closure of hair salons and barbershops in Elk Grove, many of their operators are expressing more frustration with each passing day.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest stay-at-home order led to the recent forced closure of these businesses in the Greater Sacramento region on Dec. 10. That regional order was extended on Jan. 2.
The extended order was issued after the state evaluated the region’s Intensive Care Unit Capacity (ICU) to determine whether it was above 15%. Other affected counties in the Greater Sacramento region are Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba.
Dave Keen, owner of Dave’s Barbershop in Old Town Elk Grove, told the Citizen on Dec. 31 that he anticipated the recent extension of the regional order, since the ICU capacity already fell below 15%.
Keen additionally mentioned his frustration with the ban.
“Open, close, open, close, open, close,” he said. “We’ve basically been shut down for five of the last nine months, since March. It’s just totally frustrating. Trying to be self-employed is so hard, so hard.”
Despite his frustrations with the shutdowns, Keen vowed to remain dedicated to his business.
“I’m hanging in there,” he said. “I’m going to be here as strong as I can be. I’m going to fight this to the end. But if it comes to a point where it doesn’t make much more sense, then I’ve got to make a decision. But at this moment in time, I’m fighting this with my life.”
Keen added that there is another reason that he wants to keep his barbershop in business.
“If we’re allowed to be there in 2021, we’ve made our 99th year (in business),” he said. “My immediate reaching goal is to reopen, service the community and get through to the 100th year and march on.”
Crystal Whitehead, owner of Crystal Hair Salon, expressed her frustration with watching other types of businesses operate while her business is closed. Under the stay-at-home order, most retails can remain open at under 20% capacity.
“I just don’t understand why we have to close down, but all of the other stores are still open,” she said. “It only takes me an hour per client, but then you have people going in and out of the grocery stores, the shopping stores. Even if it’s only a certain amount of people, (20%) at each store, you’re still in there for a certain amount of time, still shopping, touching things.”
Whitehead added that she works hard to create a safe environment at her salon.
“We sanitize after every client, clean all your combs, your brushes, wipe down everything,” she said. “Then you’re spending more money, because you have to buy a thermometer and you have to buy hand sanitizer and you have to buy more sanitation-type stuff.”
Mindy Allen, owner of the The Mojo Hair Lounge, also told the Citizen that she believes hair salons and barbershops should be allowed to continue to operate.
“We have definitely been boxed into the wrong category, for sure, because the spectrum is so broad,” she said. “It’s not fair to put us in with bars and things like that, because it’s just not even on the same level. There’s no way there’s going to be a bunch of people in a salon that you can’t keep tabs on.”
Allen, who is approaching her seventeenth year as a business owner, noted that she refuses to allow the current order to shut down her business.
“Sad, but true, in this day and age, you’re going to do people’s hair that you’ve been doing for 10 years, five years,” she said. “I’m going to, because it boils down to ‘Do I pay my rent or do I not take the call?’ So, I’m going to pay my rent.”
Allen added that she is willing to be fined for violating the order, rather than put a halt to her income.
“I’m going to take the fine, for sure,” she said. “It’s just how it’s going to go. I’ve done the statistics with my accountant and that’s just the route that we’ve chosen to take. I’m not sure if that’s for everybody, but the volume that I do, it makes sense for me to just keep working and be safe. And I’m safe and I’m confident that I’m safe and clean and following protocols.”
Sharie Wilson, co-owner of DreamGirls hair salon, said that her frustration with the continued shutdown of her business places her in a difficult situation.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I don’t know if I should open back up and take the risk, and think about my staff and what they need or do I follow the law. It’s hard.
“I don’t want to put people’s health at risk either, but I feel like salons have been doing everything they’re supposed to do. If malls can be open and Kohl’s can be open and different stores can be open, why can’t we be open?”