Alachua County hair stylists form a coalition for essential business status
By Zora Viel, Staff WriterMay 14, 2020
Hair salons, barbershops and nail salons reopened Monday after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced guidelines and practices they must follow to open up shop.
For some hairdressers, bringing back business isn’t enough.
Reginald Lewis, a Gainesville barber and co-owner of Elite Hair Studio, is the spokesperson for a countywide coalition of licensed barbers and cosmetologists created during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, the hair industry should be considered an essential business.
“We just saw how there was a real need for our industry to have representation at the next level,” Lewis said. “We think there was some lack of information that kinda caused us to be deemed nonessential.”
Lewis said that many first responders rely on hairdressers for the proper hair care needed for their jobs. He gave firefighters as an example, adding they often need to have short hair and a clean-shaven face to prevent catching on fire during the job.
The group had a meeting with Florida State Sen. Keith Perry on Thursday about stylists’ ability to protect themselves and their clients from the virus, Lewis said. According to him, stylists must be familiar with sanitary procedures to gain a license, and that has to be renewed each year.
However, Lewis said that like any other essential business, they have to adapt their practices to make sure workers and clients stay safe. The coalition plans to follow the guidelines that are required for barbershops and salons to remain open, but Lewis said the coalition hopes to standardize additional practices, like wearing gloves and providing masks for clients.
The group plans to meet Saturday to discuss opening procedures and coalition actions, Lewis said.
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