Salon owners say haircuts should be considered ‘essential’

Cuomo relaxes rules for some industries
Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 09:43:32-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A lot of people are staying at home, trying to wait out the coronavirus -- and that has had a devastating effect on hairstylists and salon owners like Kelly Matecki.

“This is definitely a game changer,” said Matecki, co-owner of Hot Heads Salon in Depew. “The blanket shutdown came on and we had no way of navigating the waters. This is something that's very, very new.”

Salons are not on the official list of “essential” businesses in New York State that are allowed to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has relaxed the rules on realtors and is considering doing the same with drive-in movie theaters. Salon owners say they want to be added to that list.

COVID-19 didn’t stop CNN anchor Chris Cuomo from noticing that his brother, Gov. Cuomo, appears to have had his hair cut sometime between his briefing on April 1 and April 2.

“You look like you’ve been cutting your own hair,” Chris Cuomo quipped to the governor.

People took to Twitter wondering how Cuomo managed to cut his locks during the lockdown, while others on social media have wondered whether President Trump has done the same. A spokesman for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the county executive has not had a haircut since the crisis began.

“We all agree that it is essential to some degree,” Matecki said. “People are feeling it because they’re getting their hair done.”

Matecki said salon owners would like to return to work with expanded safety precautions like limits on the amount of customers gathered at one time.

In some ways, the salon industry is already equipped to handle this, she said, because most salons require appointments to evenly accommodate customers throughout the day.

“Salon owners, hairdressers are very adaptable,” Matecki said. “Entrepreneurial people are very adaptable, very willing to change gears very quickly to make their business move forward.”

Unlike nail technicians, she said hairstylists spend much of their time in back of the customer, not in front. For those times when face-to-face contact is unavoidable, she said there are ways to stay safe.

“Wearing masks, wearing disposable capes, capes that can be cleaned in between each client. Disinfecting the chairs in between,” she said.

Absent any stop-gap measures, small business owners like Matecki say they’ll have a hard time paying their bills as the pandemic drags on.

Some salon owners may end up losing the businesses they’ve spent years building up.

“It would be very much an undoing in many, many, many salons because we are small,” Matecki said.

Gov. Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.