California Gov. Newsom OKs haircuts done outdoors, some Sonoma County salon owners not happy

Doing hair outdoors is not sanitary and an unappealing option, says one Santa Rosa salon owner.|

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday licensed barbers and cosmetologists — whose businesses were shuttered last week in 33 counties during a sweeping round of closures intended to contain increase COVID-19 transmission — would be permitted to move their operations outdoors.

A short time later, the state Department of Consumer Affairs issued clarification saying only hair cutting — not shampooing, bleaching, straightening, coloring, electrolysis or any other process involving chemicals — would be allowed.

Fred Jones, legal counsel for the Professional Beauty Federation of California, said it was almost as bad as a week ago, when Newsom said the state’s 621,000 licensed barbers and cosmetologists would be allowed to practice their craft outdoors only to find out it was prohibited under their state license.

“We just experienced the same whiplash that we did just a week ago,” Jones said. “This is just turning into a fiasco.”

Jones and Santa Rosa salon owner Brauley McNulty said the larger point is cosmetologists and barbers have spent hundreds of hours learning and being tested on bloodborne pathogens, disinfection, cross-contamination and related subjects, then recently invested in barriers and protective gear, sanitization and separation, touchless customer payments and other requirements needed to reopen indoors for the few weeks before they were closed again last week.

Moving outside, amid neighboring restaurants and garbage, wind and dust, isn’t at all sanitary, said McNulty, owner of Daredevils & Queens Salon in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square, and it makes no sense to try to haul a $2,200 barber’s chair in and out each day.

“Nor am I going to take my client into the 95-degree heat without shade, in a black drape with a mask on,” she said.

Both she and Jones said it’s an unappealing option to work outside.

“It’s too hot,” he said. “They don’t have the space. Their insurance doesn’t cover it. The master lease won’t allow it. Our position is it’s a hell of a lot safer to do it in an inside, controlled environment.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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