Salons and barbershops forced to stay closed, industry professions question why

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Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)– Michigan is the only state in the country where salons remain fully closed, with no know date of reopening.

“I really don’t understand why the salons are still being closed,” Charles Morgan, Owner of Personal Image Salon and Spa in Lansing said.

Morgan has been a salon owner for 25 years and said sanitation has always been of upmost importance. While he understands that COVID-19 is a serious virus, he added that he and his staff have been prepared to reopen safely for some time now.

“As soon as the salon was closed by the Governor’s orders, immediately we started preparing everything, looking at other states seeing what they were doing, the fact sheets that came out,” Morgan said.

Monday, the Governor announced that the stay at home order would be lifted on June 4 along and retailers and restaurants would also be able to resume operations with limited capacity. Some businesses on the other hand, like gyms, hair salons, indoor theaters and casinos, where close contact is necessary, will remain closed for now.

“Even though we are at less than 6 feet, the majority of the time we are behind the client. During the whole procedure we have masks for ourselves and our clients to wear so the contact of spread is very limited I feel,” Morgan said.

Tuesday afternoon, members of the Safe Salons for Michigan Coalition testified in Lansing before a Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“It is insulting and degrading and a slap in the face to an industry already reeling from forced closures and shutdowns and it is tone deaf in the height of arrogance. With people flocking to other states and an underground economy for haircuts, the governor is destroying what was a vibrant industry in Michigan,” said Mike Sarafa, CEO of the Alline Group which represents 80 Michigan salons.

While testifying, Senator Kim LaSata (R- District 21) asked Salon Owner Rachel Harned if she knew the reasoning behind why she wasn’t allowed to return to work, Harned responded “Honestly, no”.

During a COVID-19 health briefing Tuesday afternoon, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said there is a strategy behind the re-engagement.

“At the level of the governor and Dr. Khaldun, I believe the assessment is that is still in a higher risk category compared to some of the other things that they have opened,” Vail said.

While some industry professionals might not understand the reasoning, the governor said her decisions are based on science and facts from health experts, adding salons are considered high risk.

“I tell people if you’re like me, you need a haircut desperately, couple more weeks of this and we may be back in a place where we’re able to do that safely,” the governor said Monday.

Morgan said he’ll be prepared when that time comes.

“We have probably concentrate for 500 gallons of sanitizer, we have disposable masks for all our clients to wear when we’re doing chemical and color processing, for our nail techs we have face shields and gloves, disposable gloves. We’re pretty much ready to be on board to handle everything according to the CDC guides,” Morgan said.

But even when he is able to re-open his doors, he knows the new safety protocols will be vital.

“We understand that the COVID-19 is not just gonna vanish just because the governor releases us to work. It’s gonna be here and you have to learn to work with it and we are ready and willing to work with it,” Morgan said.

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