Buffalo salon owner worried about business's future

Personal care businesses to shut down Friday
Posted at 4:48 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 18:24:09-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Jennifer Robertson, owner of JNR Salon & Day Spa in Buffalo, makes sure her customers are nice and relaxed as they get their hair done. However, Robertson herself is anything but.

"This is our livelihood, this is how we take care of our families. We need to be able to work," she said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that most of Erie County is moving into an Orange Zone. That means personal care services like salons and barber shops must close by the end of business Thursday.

"Really like hurt, considering we didn't have a lot of time to prepare, we didn't even have a full day. To think we would be able to at least work throughout the weekend but that is not the case," said Robertson.

There is no timetable on when they can reopen. The first shutdown wasn't easy for Robertson's salon, and she worries another one could mean not being able to pay her bills, leaving the future of the salon uncertain.

"I'm a first-time home owner, I have not been in my home for not even six months yet," she said. "I'm still trying to get back on my feet from the last time. So this is cutting off our income while we are still trying to manage from the last shutdown."

Erie County said contact tracing shows salons have been a factor in the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

"They know earlier that there was transmission from gyms, fitness centers, barbers, hair salons, tattoo, piercing parlors and the like. Because people are in very close contact with each other for a time," said Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive.

Poloncarz said this is about saving lives, but Robertson said she's frustrated because she's taken every step she can to follow the rules since she reopened in June.

From disinfecting stations between clients, temperature checks, masks, and social distancing in her 1600 square foot salon to changing work schedules so that there are only three people working.

"There's no reason why we shouldn't have to close considering we're not the ones that's driving this pandemic," she said.

Robertson's salon is set to mark its five-year anniversary on January 29. She just hopes her small business will make it until then.