Alameda County barber shops' frustration grows with reopening date still not scheduled

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- More and more parts of the Bay Area are reopening after the COVID-19 shelter in place orders, but barbershops and salons in Alameda County have still not made the cut and that is creating a desperate situation for small business owners.

"I am just worried that everyone is going to forget about us," said Jerome Fahnhorst, owner of Livermore Barber Shops. Fahnhorst closed the doors of his two shops over three months ago and he's still waiting to hear when he might be able to reopen.

"There are a lot of unknowns. I am just trying to prepare when we can reopen and get everything in order," said Fahnhorst.

Alameda and Santa Clara counties are the only counties in the Bay Area that have not opened or set a reopening date for hair salons and barbershops.

Neighboring Contra Costa County allowed barbershops and salons to reopen on June 17.

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"How can one county that is 10 to 15 miles away able to open their barber shops but we can't?" said Zachary Bias, a barber at Livermore Barber Shop. "I have been anxious to get back to work."

Another big frustration is that sectors of the economy without extensive training in sanitation have been allowed to reopen much sooner. Fahnhorst points out that barbers and stylists are trained in health and sanitation before they are even able to work professionally.

"We've spent hundreds of hours in barber school learning how to clean your tools, cleaning your stations and making sure everybody is safe," said Fahnhorst. "More than any grocery stores or retail store. It's frustrating."

Besides the economic strain, the biggest hardship for Fahnhorst is not being able to serve his community. Livermore Barber Shop prided itself on not being an average barber shop but also a gathering place for the community.

"I got into the barber shop business because I like to keep people looking fresh. Being part of the community and taking care of people," said Fahnhorst.

Even though they don't yet have a reopening date, the barbershop has mad changes and adjustments to ensure the safety of clients and staff. Here are a few things they have done:

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The cleaning process

"We did a deep cleaning and took measurements on our chairs. Making sure that everything is six feet apart. We are going to get the plastic barriers between each chair and between both shops its going to be between a few thousand dollars. As long as everyone is safe and it does the job of preventing COVID-19 then its all worth it.

The new arrival process

At the front desk we are going to be doing screenings. Asking them (clients) a few questions like: Have you been in contact with anyone who has a fever or has been positive COVID-19? You won't be able to wait inside in the waiting area. Everyone will have to wait outside or in their cars. Also we will also have chairs outside that are six feet apart.

How will things be different

"We are going to start off by only taking appointments and we won't have a waiting room anymore. We will be spacing out appointments, seeing less clients which means less revenue. We are doing that so we have enough time to sanitize and clean everything before the next client. Everyone is going to have to wear a mask both the clients and the barbers. We won't be able to do beard trims and straight razor shaves until the county gives us the go ahead. Barbers are going to be wearing gloves and they will change their gloves after every client. In between clients, we will be cleaning the chairs with disinfectant wipes. We will be changing out the drape that the client wears and we will be doing a lot of laundry, more than usual. We feel that it will be better for the environment than throwing away 200 disposable drapes a day. It is still questionable if clients will get to enjoy a beverage or not. We have built a culture where people can hangout. We won't get to do that unfortunately.

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