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Haircuts coming closer

OBSERVER Staff Report

Want to get your hair cut or your nails done by a professional? It could be permitted pretty soon in New York and even sooner in Pennsylvania.

Currently, New York state has a four phase reopening approach. Phase 1 began Tuesday. Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said hair salons will be permitted in Phase 2. The earliest Phase 2 is expected to begin is June 2.

Phase 1 includes construction, manufacturing and select retail (with curbside pickup).

Phase 2 includes professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support and real estate/rental leasing.

Phase 3 includes restaurants, food services and hotels.

Phase 4 includes arts, entertainment, recreation and education.

Right now, Western New York doesn’t meet the metrics for Phase 1.

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, think the county is ready to reopen for business.

“I am frustrated,” Borrello said. “I think it’s a very difficult situation because you have to be so close to someone in order to cut their hair. Men’s haircuts are pretty simple, but when you start talking about all the things you have to do for more complicated procedures — hair coloring, perms. But I do believe it could be done responsibly once we have a level of comfort with proper guidelines. With social distancing you can properly protect yourself and the customers that you’re dealing with. I think that needs to be looked at sooner than later,” Borrello added.

Borrello said he is very familiar with hair salons and barbershops as his mother owned a salon for 45 years. There is already a lot of sanitizing that goes on in a salon or barbershop. He mentioned jars of Barbicide where combs and brushes are sanitized. Many hair stylists will sanitize their scissors between customers.

“Those are all things that you could come up with a set of strict guidelines for how everything is sanitized,” Borrello said.

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, said even though the state has been shut down, he thinks salons should reopen now.

“There are ways, in my opinion, to be able to reopen many of our businesses consistent with appropriate safety standards,” Goodell said. He cited hair salons as an example. “Can we open hair salons? Yeah, probably. If they (salon workers) want they can do a quick health check (on customers). They could take our temperature which not a 100% accurate, but is very good detecting if we have any current symptoms. Depending on what is being done, the client can wear a mask. And of course the person cutting hair can wear a mask,” Goodell said.

Many of the people, Goodell noted, who cut hair are independent contractors or sole proprietors. “If you are sole proprietor, you are not eligible for standard unemployment,” Goodell said.

For Chautauqua County, Goodell said the danger level is very low and is continuing to drop. One active case equals 525 square miles, Goodell said. New York City is 303 square miles. “We (Chautauqua County) have the equivalent of one active case for all of New York City. That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t other cases that might be out there. There very well might be. I think it’s reasonable to assume that we can exercise caution and still be able to have a haircut, have a pedicure, or have a manicure,” Goodell said.

Borrello also liked the suggestion that County Executive PJ Wendel made. Wendel said each business needs come up with its own plan.

Within industries, Borrello said, standards can be set, but businesses will determine what can be done. “Every business is different. You have to flexible. If you are a barber with one chair, and you are only open certain hours on certain days, you going to have to think in a different way than a salon that has 20 stations,” Borrello noted.

Borrello said business people are entrepreneurs and also are innovators. “They are people who are problem solvers because they do it every day,” Borrello noted. He said business owners can receive guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and then follow those guidelines and come up with a plan which is tailored to their business is a possibility. “I think the role of the state and the health department would be to take a look at it (business plan) and evaluate it to see if it is going to work,” Borrello said.

It’s important, Goodell said, to remember that non-essential businesses are absolutely essential to the owners of those businesses and the employees who rely on those businesses to provide long-term financial stability to their families.

Pennsylvania could start as early as this weekend. It is using a three phase reopening based on color — red, yellow and green, with red being the most restrive. On May 8, 24 counties including Warren and Erie counties were switched from “red” to “yellow.”

In the “yellow” phase, restaurants and bars are limited to carry-out and delivery, gatherings up to 25 people are permitted, in-person retail is allowable and child care is open. However indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, and personal care services, such as gyms, spas, hair salons, and other entities that provide massage therapy, as well as all entertainment such as casinos and theaters remain closed.

As of Thursday afternoon, 37 of the state’s 67 counties are in the yellow phase, which features aggressive mitigation. “So I’ll be announcing a whole range of counties tomorrow moving from red to yellow and the hope is that we’ll also be making some counties that might even be moving from yellow to green tomorrow,” Gov. Tom Wolf told reporters on a conference call Thursday.

Michael Zabrodsky contributed to this report.

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