CALIFORNIA—On Monday, May 18, salon industry workers rallied at the California State Capitol, pushing for salons to reopen.

Salons are currently listed as “higher-risk workplaces” in the state’s “Resilience Roadmap,” and are only allowed to reopen when the state reaches Stage 3 of the Roadmap. California is currently at Stage 2.

Larry Cromwell, co-owner of Maribou Spa Salon, was present at the protest. When Canyon News asked him why he thought salons were essential, he said “well, if I were to look at it from that angle, hygiene is essential, and I think it can take away from people’s emotional health. I think we’re a lot more important than people think; we’re being called off the hook from clients who think the same way.”

Demonstrators carried signs saying “if we can sit in a restaurant and eat, I should be able to have a client in my chair”, “feeding our families is essential”, “let the hair hit the floor,” and “save lives: open California.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced during his daily COVID-19 briefing that “we’re within a window of a few weeks” in terms of reopening locations like places of worship and salons. “We will be putting out guidelines in the space for counties that can self-attest in the next week or so. And then within a few weeks, more broadly statewide, those guidelines.”

Cromwell mentioned that it “does feel like he (Newsom) is picking winners and losers” when asked about his opinion on procedures like cosmetic surgeries resuming while salons remain closed. “It does feel like he thinks we’re not essential and he’s arbitrarily picking winners and losers. Not only does it hurt the pride of the people who do the job, it also has an incredible financial impact on us.”

He does believe that Newsom will allow salons to reopen in a few weeks, but stated that “I wish it was sooner.” Cromwell reiterated several times that he and his family were struggling financially, and told CBS that they are over $100,000 in debt. He has 3 children with his wife and salon co-owner Jill. Aged 20, 18, and 12, one is currently in college while another was planning on starting college in the fall, before the COVID-19 outbreak began. 

In response to a YouTube user who commented “$$$$$ over lives” in reference to the protestors’ demands, a fellow YouTuber called Carrieann Guerrero said:

“Exactly. These salon workers can’t do things 6ft apart. It’s so dumb for them to waste money on paper [to make] signs and [use] their gas to drive to the [Capitol]. Tired of hearing them cry. They [would] rather make money [than] to make sure we are all safe. They would still need to fill out the application showing how they would run their business and submit it to the health and safety code and to the governor before they could open up. They want it to go back to normal while we are still having people get infected and people are still [dying]. Why can’t they understand that[?] They will be allowed when the timing is right. Look at the barber in [New Jersey] I think or [somewhere] back east [,] who opened up when not allowed and cut multiple person’s of all ages [,] and he came down with the coronavirus a few days after he opened up [,] so he was giving everyone he [touched] a risk of getting this deadly virus.”

Cromwell said he believes that “people are going to find out how essential all businesses are. We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes every year, I pay hundreds of thousands in rent to my landlord, I pay hundreds of thousands to my suppliers; and all these people are reliant on us.”

Some of the measures which Maribou Salon will take to ensure its clients’ safety include: removing the waiting room (clients will wait in their cars until called straight to a chair), taking everyone’s temperatures, ensuring that all workers and clients wear masks, leaving additional time between appointments to clean stations and instruments with bar i ideas, and enforcing a six-foot gap between stations to enable appropriate social/ physical distancing. The owners will also apparently follow any other relevant guidelines from authorities.

“It’s nice that the government tried those things but they don’t really work,” said Cromwell, regarding actions taken by officials to assist salon owners. “All these other plans don’t work, only reopening will. It’s better to work around something than just to make us stop.”