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

VACAVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Two Northern California small business owners are feeling the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic and have decided to defy the state's shelter-in-place order.

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Barber Juan Desmarais who owns a shop in Winters tells ABC7 News that Friday will be soon enough to go back to work, "Especially since the Governor says no."

He's not alone, especially among people who work on or style hair for a living.

"I think what is happening is wrong," said Lia Rivera of Hairendipity in Vacaville.

She arrived at her salon to find a large queue of reporters, all waiting for her to defy guidelines by taking her first customer in nine weeks.

"I am frustrated that I am a symbol of defiance," said Rivera.

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She has no choice, says Lia, after 90 days without customers in that chair, no small business loan, and three boys to support.

"I can guarantee a five-figure loss every month? Give me rules to follow and I will follow them," said Rivera.

Both Lia and Juan insist they can work on hair safely.

"We have 1,500 hours of instruction," said Desmarais. "We're sanitary. That's what barber school is for."

He insists that this is less about money than the principle.

As a former Marine and retired CHP officer, Juan knows all about respecting rules and now defying them.

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"The real issue is the example we as adults and politicians are giving to our kids. We're teaching them that when things get rough, let's go inside and run and hide," said Desmarais.

It's either that, or else stand outside a salon, defending your actions, one answer at a time.

"I am more worried about the guaranteed loss I am going to take if I continue to stay closed," said Rivera.

"The economic loss cannot be more damaging than the risk," said Desmarais. "We're talking about the world-wide economy. How much money can we throw at it?"

And so we approach a boiling point. It had to happen sooner or later.

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