Salon owners chime in on public demand for access to services during pandemic

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Some South Carolinians are eager to get back to their normal routines such as working, spending time with friends and family and even basic personal grooming such as haircuts.

On April 7, Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order urging residents to stay indoors unless utilizing essential services, visiting family or going to work.

Some individuals in South Carolina are outraged by this decision because they fear the executive order violates their constitutional right to assemble, even if it’s for the safety of the people they love and those who are vulnerable to succumb to the virus.

One of the many complaints we’ve seen in the comment section of our Facebook page and at state house protests around the country is the demand to open barbershops and hair salons.

According to Amy Howie, owner of Papillon Salon in Myrtle Beach, salons use hospital grade sanitizers and they practice safety requirements outlined in Chapter 35 section 20 of the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology guidelines.

Howie said the closure of salons has affected many hairstylists financially and her clients are eager to get back in her chair. She told us her salon handles hair replacement for those with illnesses such as cancer or alopecia, and going without treatments could lead to potential infections.

Howie started a petition that now has almost 500,000 signatures asking the governor to reopen salons in South Carolina to allow one client at a time. The petition said wearing masks and gloves poses little to no risk of spreading the virus.

According to the petition, Howie said this is important because “The survival of the independent beauty professionals is at risk. We are facing a grave financial hardship.”

“A lot of hair salons don’t qualify for unemployment and all of the other benefits that the other industries do but we just want to be deemed as an essential business to be able to work. We are very licensed and trained with the state board for disinfecting procedures,” Howie said.

Although wearing masks, gloves and checking temperatures could help distinguish between clients who are symptomatic and those who are asymptomatic, it does not show if they are carrying the potentially deadly and highly contagious virus.

According to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for the State Board of Cosmetology, “No salon or school may knowingly require or permit a student or person licensed by the Board of Cosmetology to work upon a person known to suffer from any infectious or communicable disease, which may be transmitted during the performance of the acts of cosmetology or related professions,” which could pose a problem since only testing can prove if a client is infected.

Researchers say it is currently unclear whether symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers have a higher spread rate, but regardless the virus is still highly contagious, so it could potentially spread from client to client without anyone’s knowledge.

Ashley Moore, owner of Fringe Color Studio in Greenville said she did not sign the petition because she wants to put the safety of her clients above all, so instead she came up with a creative way to help those with their hair needs from a safe distance.

Moore created a take-home hair essentials bag with products and instructions for services such as root touch ups and hair coloring to help those abiding by the stay at home order.

“I don’t want to risk my clients’ health. I do have clients with autoimmune diseases or have cancer treatments they’re currently taking and I don’t want to put anyone at risk especially for hair, I do feel like it’s something we can wait for,” Moore said.

She starts with a virtual video consultation to assess the client’s hair needs and then packs the bags with professional salon grade items such as dyes, mixing bowls, applicators and vegan hair products which she said are healthier fixes for client’s who are tempted by box dyes.

Moore abides by the social distancing guidelines by allowing the customers to pick up the bags at the salon’s curbside, and she said for her immunocompromised patrons their safety is her top priority.

“I could go on Facebook and read everyone’s opinions or I could listen to the CDC. I’d much rather listen to the CDC about what is safe,” Moore said.

For more information on the latest from Gov. Henry McMaster please visit his website or download the WSPA app, and turn on notifications.

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