Reopening California: Bay Area nail shop owner revamps salon in light of COVID-19 safety concerns

UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A Union City barber and nail shop owner is building what she hopes will be a coronavirus safe environment.

Manicurist Rene Smith is taking matters into her own hands.

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"We're scraping and grinding to get this together," said Smith.

Smith owns D&R Barber and Nail Shop in Union City.

"COVID is real, we're not talking about a nail fungus that you can go to the doctor and get a pill and it's gone in 90 days," said Smith.

Smith says she saw the writing on the wall and began building partitions.

"It actually has 3 sides, it has a cutout here where your hand goes through, it comes down to here, the clients would still be requested to wear a mask," she explained.

On the barbershop side, her husband has been building partitions as well.

"As you can see it's tagged there, the Plexiglas will go up that high. A client sitting in the chair will still be able to see their surroundings. Still have a social atmosphere because that's what barbershops really are," Smith explained.

Last week Governor Gavin Newsom shocked many in the beauty industry when he announced what he says was the origin of the first community COVID-19 case in California.

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"This whole thing started in the state of California the first community spread in a nail salon," said Governor Newsom.

Smith says she has received no direction from the city or state on how to prepare to reopen.

"No one told me to build this. No one told me to build this partition," said Smith.

"I knew COVID wasn't going anywhere," she continued. "I wanted to reopen with safety, not just safety for the clients, safety for my employees."

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"There are so many things that are so simple that we can do in this industry to get back to work," said Smith.

On Tuesday, the Professional Beauty Federation of California announced a lawsuit against Governor Newsom and others to open salons now.

"The sooner this state can regulate something so that we can all go back to work the better it's going to be for so many people," said Smith.

In absence of being able to practice their profession openly and safely soon, Smith says she believes stylists, barbers and manicurists will resort to house calls to earn a living, a practice she says could be more risky.

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