Struggling Alameda County hairstylists rally to reopen salons, group ready to defy COVID-19 orders

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Alameda Co. hairstylists rally to reopen salons, group may defy county order
Across California and the Bay Area, hairstylists and salon owners are struggling and want to reopen their businesses. In the East Bay, a growing group of barbershop owners are prepared to defy the county's COVID-19 order and open anyway.

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- There is growing frustration and anxiety in an industry hard hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Across California and the Bay Area, hairstylists and salon owners are struggling and want to reopen their businesses. In the East Bay, a growing group of stylists are prepared to defy a county order and open anyway.

RELATED: Everything to know about California's confusing coronavirus reopening plan, summer shutdown and what comes next

"I can't feed my family, we need to open," said stylist Miranda Hankins.

Hairstylists and salon owners in the Tri-Valley say they've held on long enough.

"Our county will not allow us to do anything, not even outdoors," said Pleasanton salon owner Renae Earl.

Salons in Alameda County have not been allowed to reopen since the shelter in place order began in March.

"I can get a boob job for crying out loud, but I can't cut hair," said Hankins.

WATCH:'This is not going to work': East Bay hair salon choosing not to reopen outdoors amid coronavirus pandemic

Beauty Lounge and Wine Bar in Walnut Creek is choosing not to reopen for outdoor services for the safety of their clients.

A solidarity rally in Pleasanton brought about two dozen stylists together to say they're ready to open safely, indoors.

"We can follow the rules and do what they ask so let us open indoors, we are safer inside," said Flaunt Hair Salon owner Christine Palmer.

Palmer said most stylists have been certified in COVID-19 safety protocols and should be classified as essential workers.

"Because we are essential to our clients health and well being," said Palmer.

If county officials don't give them permission, the stylists say they're prepared to risk fines by reopening collectively on Aug. 17.

"We have no choice, we've been told no every step of the way," said salon owner Lila Robinson.

RELATED: Here's what East Bay hair salon had to do to reopen amid coronavirus pandemic: 'It is so overwhelming'

Salon owners rallied at San Francisco City Hall on Friday. They wanted the city to let them open safely or provide them with unemployment pay and a recovery plan.

"Everyone thinks I'm crazy, I'm the only one doing this in the desert," said Rebecca Alcorn.

Alcorn is doing the unimaginable, she's taking her Palm Springs salon, outdoors where extreme temperatures are pushing a stunning 120 degrees. She's got a pop up tent and a giant fan, offering cuts most days between 8 to 10 a.m.

"I've never had the government take away my ability to make money, it's nice as a business owner to keep my head up, keep looking towards the future," Alcorn said.

Alcorn says several clients are booked this week. She's also donating proceeds of haircuts to local homeless outreach services.

Back in Pleasanton, the hairstylist group plans to draft a letter of intent on opening to county officials. If the answer is no, they say they'll likely open anyway.

An Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesmen says stylists technically run the risk of having their licenses revoked, but as for enforcement, the department has other priorities.

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