Stay at home order frustrates Laguna Beach hair salons

The Hudson Hair Salon & Spa installed an outdoor seating area earlier this year for customers to wait and be processed after the statewide closure was lifted. Photo courtesy of the Hudson

Under the state’s recent stay-at-home order, restaurants can offer takeout and delivery; gyms, personal trainers and yoga teachers can offer Zoom classes; and retail stores can be open at 20% capacity. But personal care businesses in Orange County, which include hair salons, nail studios and estheticians among others, are prohibited from providing any services, indoors or outdoors, between now and Jan. 4, 2021.

Hair salon owners in Laguna Beach are not happy.

Danniella Gallo, owner of The Studio Laguna, said that “in a perfect world,” she would comply with the order and shut down as she did in the spring. But now, “I just can’t,” she said. “I sustained my personal and business life for six months with no income and that’s about it. I cannot afford to shut down again.”

Gallo said with three stylists wearing masks, face shields and gloves rotating for only one-on-one appointments on her outdoor patio, she feels she has created a safe and sanitized environment.

“I’m doing everything I can. We sanitize all touch points and clients wait in their cars and text us when they arrive so as not to crossover with anyone else,” she said. “We will do out part as much as we possibly can, but I’d rather take my chances with COVID. At least that lasts three weeks. I’m going on a year and my business is devastated. [Is the government] going to supply food for my son and I? I’ll fight it all the way if I have to.”

Gallo is not alone. Other hair salon owners interviewed by the Independent who wished to remain anonymous echoed her sentiments and said they plan to stay open despite the order.

The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology may pursue disciplinary action against a licensee if their business puts public health and safety at risk by not following state and local stay at home orders, said Cheri Gyuro, a spokesperson for the Department of Consumer Affairs.

“While we are sympathetic to the ever-changing environment that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for our licensees, our role is to ensure the health and safety of California consumers by promoting ethical standards and by enforcing the laws of the barbering and beauty industry,” Gyruo said.

But not everyone is defying the directive. Paul Welsh, who with his stylist wife Tracy, co-owns The British Hair Company, is closing for the third time this year and said most of his stylists have retired or left.

“My wife is a senior stylist and we have one other stylist who had to return part-time because schools shut down and she had to be home with her child,” he said. “But we can afford to be shut down,” he said, explaining that after the 2008 and 2009 recession, he and his wife put contingency plans in place and made their stylists W-2 employees so they could collect unemployment during difficult times. “We also have an extremely good landlord who has been an absolute angel through all of this,” he said. “But if this carries on for another six months, I might be telling a slightly different story.”

British Hair Company co-owners Tracy Welsh and Paul Welsh with their dog Bear. Courtesy of Paul Welsh

Acknowledging the shutdown fatigue at the Laguna Beach City Council meeting this week, City Manager John Pietig expressed concern about businesses, including restaurants, who are not going to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote to City Manager John Pietig that was in fact made by a Laguna Beach resident during Tuesday’s council meeting. The Independent regrets the error.

“If our efforts to educate and seek compliance are not heeded we will have to move forward and look at possible enforcement options, which could include reporting the restaurant to the [Department] of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the County Health Officer, Cal OSHA, or other entities and the city could consider fines,” Pietig said Tuesday. “Again that is not our goal. Our goal is compliance.”

Laguna Beach police Capt. Rachel Johnson said case rates in the county are increasing significantly.

“The situation is dire,” she told the City Council on Tuesday. “We are starting to see the surge and it’s likely to get worse. ICU availability is 6.7 percent in Orange County. The [testing] positivity rate is 10.6 percent. “

Pietig, in a statement, said that while “we understand the difficult situation that businesses are in, they must comply with the state orders. We must all come together to prevent the spread of the virus to protect our hospital resources and each other. The greater compliance we have, the quicker our region can return to a less restrictive tier and reopen more businesses. The City prefers that businesses voluntarily comply, but we will follow up with enforcement action if necessary.”

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  1. Close the salons, barbers and nail services. It it the caring and correct movement to quell the current spike in covid infections, ICU placements and DEATHS.
    It is ONLY HAIR.
    People, we can wait three weeks. Even I had wanted a local barber cut this week…..but beanies and baseball caps are in full effect for now.
    I’ve been in the industry since 1984. We must weather these storms together and care more for those who may get sick or die rather than worry about 1/2 inch grey roots…..
    I’ve closed my studio in Costa Mesa. I am fortunate to have frugal leanings which allowed me to bank some extra bucks for a ‘rainy day’…..
    It is raining now. Raining illness and possibly death. Cover up(mask), dodge the drops(social distancing) care for others and wait until the sun shines once again( vaccines and preventative care) and we can all get hairdos once again!


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