Hemet barbershops reject latest business restrictions

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barber shop
This Hemet barber shop’s doors remain closed, while the restaurant next door continues to serve its customers outside, complying with the latest state mandate due to the increase in coronavirus cases, limiting the service of barber shops and restaurants to outside service only. Valley News/Tony Ault photo

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest mandate that barber shops and hair salons must close again due to the upsurge of coronavirus cases, is not faring well with local barbers and hairdressers, despite the allowance that they can continue their services outside their shops while keeping customers a safe distance from others.

A Saturday, July 25, survey of many barber shops and beauty salons in the Hemet San Jacinto Valley and in Menifee revealed that none of the hair care and shops had moved their chairs and sun shades outside to serve customers. Most beauty shops and hair care salons remained closed with many cosmetologists fearing the loss of their licenses if they continue their work.

Contrary to the most recent closure orders for businesses, many barber shops remained open inside with fewer barbers and a wider separation between hair cutting chairs. Most barbers said they were willing to cover their faces with masks while cutting hair and continuously sanitizing their chairs and workstations to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

A Hemet barber, who worked inside his shop with his face covered while cutting a customer’s hair, said, “We have to work to make money.”

eye brow threading salon
This eyebrow threading shop on Harvard Street in Hemet is considered a nonessential service and as part of the hair care industry, it remains closed, although the “open” sign on the door reflects confusion over the state’s latest order limiting hair care businesses only to the outside because of the latest coronavirus upsurge. Valley News/Tony Ault photo

The statement was the same sentiment expressed by other barbers, who were still working and wished to remain anonymous.

One barber shop owner explained that most of his barbers are considered self-employed or independent contractors. As a result, they are unable to easily claim unemployment benefits offered by the federal government and the state.

He said he has had at least half of his barbers leave their chairs since barber shops were closed for more than two months.

“We were allowed to open our shops again two weeks ago, now we are supposed to close again. This does not work for our guys,” the owner said.

He said as a business owner he could quit his job because he has saved enough money to get by, “but, most of my guys haven’t saved and have nothing to live on and can’t get unemployment.”

He said that since the initial closure of his shop, he has lost almost 50% of his business with many of his barbers having to find other work to support their families. Some continue to cut hair by appointment. He said those barbers that remain in his shop are recommended to and do wear masks while cutting hair.

“We do have a few rebels,” he said. “But, most do.

“I never know when somebody (from the state) might walk in and close us down for good,” he said.

He said they have little choice but to continue to work. None of the shops reported being ordered to close by authorities.

All the barbers interviewed said they believe hair haircutting and hair care is a “necessary business” and should never have been shut down because of the coronavirus.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.