North County Salon Owner Part of Lawsuit Against Governor's Shop Closures

Lawsuit claims barbers and beauticians' constitutional rights violated

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After months of being closed, a North County business is among the barbers and beauticians suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Attorney General, Xavier Becerra over continued closures.

The complaint filed Tuesday by the Professional Beauty Federation of California claims the Newsom administration has “vaguely and arbitrarily classified licensed barbering and cosmetology professionals as ‘non-essential,' criminalizing the jobs of the 500,000 plus state-licensed professionals.”

“At this point, my livelihood is on the line,” said Corinne Lam, owner of Salotto Salon and Blowdry Lounge in Rancho Bernardo. She told NBC 7 she is feeling the financial strain of the closures.

Her employees are furloughed and she’s still paying thousands of dollars a month on her lease, but her shop remains closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It's part of the reason she’s a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“My industry is more equipped than most to get back to work and be able to flatten the curve,” said Lam.

According to Lam and others in the cosmetology industry, they are more equipped because technicians at nail salons already wear gloves and masks.

And most of the hundreds of hours spent in school to get their licenses are focused primarily on health, safety and sanitation.

"You literally are not tested on cutting a straight line.  They could care less,” said Lam.

Rawknykz barbershop owner, Nick Romero, has continued training to keep his shop clean since shutting down in March.

He got his Barbicide COVID-19 certificate showing how to properly clean and disinfect.

Now, he’s just looking to the State of California for guidance on rules to reopen.       

"I was writing a letter to the State Board of Health today, telling them to give us an opening checklist and we haven't received that yet. I  want to know if I can be a part of that," Romero said in regards to the guidelines process.

Guidelines Little Nail Shop owner, Jeannie Labor, knows could include things like temperature checks and fewer seats inside her Mission Valley Shop to improve physical distancing.

Labor, like other shop owners, is looking for state guidance and a common-sense approach.

"It’s just time to find a balance of opening in a safe environment but we also have to make money,” she said.

Shop owners say they’re already making purchases ahead of the reopening. They say they’re keeping an eye on states like Georgia, where shops are already open.

Hair and nail salons are part of the state’s third phase of re-openings.

Gov. Newsom recently said no date has been set yet. Officials want to have plans in place to secure customer safety.

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