'This is my livelihood' | Bay Area nail salons implement new safety measures, react to Gov. Newsom's revelation

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Friday, May 8, 2020
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Changes are being made to how nail salons will be conducting business when they reopen, especially after Gov. Newsom announced the firs California case of contact spread happened inside of one.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In his daily noon briefing on Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom surprised viewers with an update no one anticipated.

He announced a nail salon in California was the source of the state's first case of COVID-19 community spread.

Now, local salons are working to improve safety ahead of any reopening.

RELATED: First case of COVID-19 community spread in California tracked to nail salon, Newsom reveals

There's no denying, the days of welcomed walk-ins and busy waiting rooms are a thing of the past.

"This whole thing started- in the state of California- the first community spread, in a nail salon," Governor Newsom announced. "I just want to remind you, remind everybody of that. I'm very worried about that."

"Community spread" means the virus was contracted locally, not from traveling abroad or by crossing paths with an infected person who did.

"Nail salons are certainly a setting where- in the absence of protective equipment, or regular specific cleaning procedures- people are sitting in close proximity to each other," Dr. Anne Liu with Stanford Health Care explained. "They're next to each other, across from each other. Then adding physical contact on top of that, probably augments the risk of transmission."

Governor Newsom mentioned masks, gloves and other safety modifications were already in play at nail salons, barbershops and similar businesses at the time of the reported transmission. This, he explained, makes the reopening of such businesses particularly challenging.

Dr. Liu is an infectious disease doctor at Stanford Health Care. She said personal protective equipment, used improperly, could present problems.

"PPE by itself is not magical. It has to be used correctly, and that would be the concern," Liu said. "I think that educating the public on how to use PPE properly- especially in settings like restaurants, nail salons and barber shops- where people are in close contact with each other for a prolonged period of time, will be really important."

RELATED: California moving into Phase 2 reopening: Here's what that means for CA businesses

Dr. Liu said it isn't surprising to hear that there was transmission in a nail salon.

Risk alone is the reason behind new safety measures at Blossom Nail Spa in the South Bay. The spa has two locations, one in San Jose and another in Campbell.

Once reopened, owner Linda Do said appointments will be required. She said customers will also have to wait in their cars, instead of the usual waiting room.

"We're going to take their temperature, they're going to have to sanitize their hands. We have facial masks for them, to provide for them if they are not wearing one," Do explained. "And we've bought protective shields. Where, when you do your nails, it's like a sneeze guard."

She admitted she was disappointed with the governor's announcement, but she remains focused on providing the highest level of safety for when business returns.

RELATED: Northern CA barber, hair salon owner to reopen business despite COVID-19 shelter-in-place

Santa Clara County said it does not have the first case of community transmission.

The first case of community spread in California was known to have occurred in Solano County in February.

The county told ABC7 News, "Solano Public Health cannot confirm this information and we did not release this information when the first COVID-19 community spread occurred."

In any case, local salons are proving they're tough as nails.

"My workers are mainly all immigrant women and this is their livelihood. This is my livelihood and we're all in this together," Do said. "And so, I just feel we can't work, we can't open. Mentally, all we can do is just help one another."

Do's prepared to follow the guidelines by the government, regarding reopening.

"I can only do my part. I've been working so hard just to express my gratitude to my customers," Do told ABC7 News. "And this is what I can do for them for the health and safety of my customers and my employees."

Post-COVID, that routine mani-pedi will be anything but.

"I don't know how uniformly protective equipment has been used in nail salons, certainly not in barber shops, but I hope it will be universal going forward," Dr. Liu added.

Liu offered Stanford Health Care's Novel Coronavirus Resource Center website for more information. Click here.

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