Cherisse White, owner of Cherisse’s Hair Salon, would like to think recent updates to the state’s Covid-19 tier-based reopening system were the result of officials listening to input provided by small business owners.
White helped organize a protest Aug. 24 at the Santa Clara County Department of Health building in downtown San Jose, demanding that the county “save our salons” and set a date for personal care services to begin operating indoors. On Aug. 31, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new reopening plan that replaced the previous monitoring list with a tiered system.
The governor’s new system removed previous benchmarks that counties had to meet before reopening the economy, thus allowing hair salons to move back indoors in Santa Clara County. As of Sept. 8, the county is now in the state’s “red” tier, meaning even more industries to reopen with restrictions.
“Maybe the protests made it happen,” said White, who organized the Aug. 24 protest with some other hairdressers in South County. “All the letters, emails, protests—I think they heard us.”
White opened her salon on Second Street in downtown Morgan Hill last week, but she can only serve clients at about one-third her normal capacity due to the Covid-19 regulations.
White noted that hair salons are among the most regulated industries in the state when it comes to health and sanitation. Stylists have to meet at least three layers of hygiene regulations imposed by the state of California, Santa Clara County and the state board of cosmetology.
She noted that cosmetologists typically receive 1,600 hours of training before becoming certified, and 200 of those hours are in sanitation and sterilization.
Covid-19 requirements include all customers signing a liability form and filling out a health questionnaire before entering the salon, White explained. Staff have to take each client’s temperature when they walk in. Stylists and clients have to wear masks throughout the service; and anyone who enters and leaves the business has to be “time stamped” for future tracing purposes.
“We can only book one client at a time, and we completely sanitize in between” clients, White said. With four stylists working at her salon, White estimates the business can only serve about 15 clients per day.
That’s better than being shut down, and it’s better than attempting to style hair outdoors, White said. She tried to offer outdoor service earlier this summer, but it wasn’t ideal for business due to the complexities of setting up and breaking down each day.
“I think it’s a lot (to stay open indoors) but I also want customers to feel safe,” White said. “We don’t want anybody to say they got Covid from our salon. Six months being (closed) was a little ridiculous.”
As of Sept. 8, businesses that can reopen under the county’s red tier include museums, zoos, aquariums, gyms and shopping malls, all with limited capacity.