The first shutdown in March was tough for longtime hairdresser Mona Huckaby but the second and current one is worse, she said Saturday.
In May, she and other personal care professionals parted ways with a previous salon and decided to open their own, Renovaré in Saugus, after Gov. Gavin Newsom that month approved Los Angeles County’s variance to reopen at its own pace, ultimately allowing indoor services at hair salons and barbershops to resume.
But these businesses had to reopen with safety measures in place: face masks worn by both customers and workers at all times, physical distancing, contactless payment options and limiting the number of people indoors.
“We did all the safety protocols, we’ve done everything and then they closed us,” said Huckaby, referring to Newsom’s order on July 13 to halt indoor services but allow them to operate outdoors safely. “They only let us open for five weeks. We’re losing our businesses and we are licensed professionals, so that’s why we’re here today.”
Huckaby was one of about a dozen hairstylists, estheticians, nail technicians and makeup artists who protested Saturday on the corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard.
Fed up with state and county laws limiting salons’ operations, the group held signs that read “open salons now,” and “save our salons,” and expressed that despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in California, their industry already must adhere to stringent health and safety regulations, such as sanitizing and sterilizing equipment.
Huckaby’s 20-year client Joann MacLean said she could attest to the cleanliness and compliance of her hairdresser’s new business and believed the shutdown is unfair for those who are following the rules.
“She was going to do my husband’s hair and mine back to back and when she put the color on my hair I stepped outside and waited in my car to have less people inside,” she said referring to her experience when Renovaré opened in May. “She cleaned everything: the chair, the utensils. It was spotless and professional.”
Other hairstylists also said that while they are allowed to operate outside, salons, unlike barbershops, are limited to what they can do and that not all businesses have an appropriate location to set up outdoors.
“Dry cuts only, no shampooing and they don’t even want us to sweep hair because hair has pathogens. So, when you’re outside and the wind blows, the hair can land in people’s food or face. It’s not safe for us to work outside so we decided not to open,” said Huckaby.
Rally organizer Sandi Thomas of Studio Bijioux Salon and Boutique said they would like to see Santa Clarita and other northern L.A. County cities join forces and create their own health department — an effort the cities had pushed for prior to the county receiving its variance in May.
“That would really help us because the numbers here are lower, even though we’re considered L.A. County,” said Thomas. “I am hitting my fourth month of not being able to pay rent. How am I supposed to bounce back from that? We apply for help but get denied or it kicks us out of the system. We are here to make some noise and see what we can do.”