SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California hair and nail salons may provide services outdoors under new rules announced Monday that aim to provide a lifeline for personal care services decimated by the state’s shutdown orders but an industry organization says the changes give little help to many owners.
The announcement came as Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that infections, hospitalizations and intensive care cases continued increasing but at a slower rate after the state scaled back reopening earlier this month.
“We saw a big increase, now we’re seeing some stabilization,” Newsom said. He noted the rate of positive coronavirus tests fell slightly in the last week to 7.2%.
Virus cases have surged in many parts of California in the last month. In the last two weeks alone, the number of new confirmed cases was nearly 120,000 and there were 1,357 deaths.
Newsom continued to implore Californians to avoid social gatherings and to wear masks and socially distance.
The California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency released rules allowing hair stylists, barbers, manicurists, massage therapists and estheticians to offer some personal care services outdoors.
They can operate under tents, canopies or other shelters so long as no more than one side is enclosed, the agency said, allowing for enough outdoor air movement to deter the buildup or spread of the virus.
The rules still bar chemical hair services including shampooing, permanent waving, bleaching, tinting, coloring, dyeing and straightening. Electrolysis, tattooing and piercing also are banned.
“I’m open to innovation, I truly am, but how many small businesses are going to be able to afford all of these modifications?” asked Jessie Santiago, the owner of Salon Benders in Long Beach. She planned to buy a shade structure and was considering other equipment she will need.
Fred Jones, attorney for the Professional Beauty Federation of California, said that while some barber shops and beauty salons are ready to reopen outdoors, many of the federation’s 53,000 members will have trouble finding appropriate space or getting accommodations from their landlords, insurers or neighbors.
“How would you like to be outside dining and you’re next to one of these tents and you have hair flying into your hamburger?” Jones said.
The new rules come a week after Newsom closed bars and indoor restaurant dining statewide, and imposed other closures on inside businesses for much of the state. Restaurants may service patrons outdoors.
Hair and nail salon owners joined by at least 16 state lawmakers of both political parties had called on the governor to make it clear that the shops could operate outside, warning that a complete shutdown could put many out of business.
“This is another example of the utter confusion that we’re seeing,” said Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who organized one of the bipartisan efforts. He called the revised rules ”a Band-Aid approach” that nonetheless will allow some shops to reopen.
Jones said operators spent thousands of dollars on personal protective gear, shields separating customers and other indoor precautions. Newsom had allowed indoor service to resume in mid-June but when virus cases spiked following the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, the businesses were closed again.
“The idea that (operating outdoors) is safer than our indoor facilities is not only a joke, but a slap in our professional faces,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Monday California’s governing body for high school sports said the 2020-21 athletic seasons will begin no earlier than December. Last Friday, Newsom announced rules for reopening schools that will have most K-12 students resuming distance learning at home at the start of the new year.
The California Interscholastic Federation said the normal fall, winter and spring sports seasons will be condensed into two seasons. The federation set time frames for most playoffs and championships. Football, for example, will complete its playoffs and championships by mid-April. Actual regular season and playoff schedules will be set separately.
Elsewhere, malls in San Francisco were ordered to close Monday, about a month after they were allowed to reopen, as the county landed on the state’s watch list for areas with rising infection and hospitalization rates. Stores with direct access to the street are allowed to stay open.
Four months after the San Francisco Bay Area became the first place in the nation to issue broad stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, only one Bay Area county is not on the state watch list — San Mateo County.
To the south, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer outlined new measures to improve contact tracing, including gift cards to encourage people to complete the process and a call-in center for people who have a positive test.
“Without a doubt the No. 1 driver of the surge that we’re experiencing today is simple to identify: People are interacting with each other and they’re not adhering to the recommended prevention measures,” she said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.