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Local Hairstylists, Nail Salons Struggle Under COVID-19 Restrictions

The latest regulations for hairstylists and nail salons have left many struggling to decide if reopening is even worth it. Because Santa Clara County is on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist, service businesses like hair and nail salons can only reopen outdoors.

Louisiana Pham is the owner of the Orchid Nail Salon on Los Padres Blvd. She made the decision to reopen outdoors, but says physically, it’s demanding.

“My [nail stations], they’re over 350 pounds,” said Pham, who works with her employees to move the stations in and out of her shop every day. “The [sun shade] canopies are like six feet tall and my girls [are] only 4’11”. Every morning it’s like the three of us have to climb up on stools just to push the top.”

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Pham is frustrated with the state regulations because she believes she’s gone above and beyond to make sure her customers and her employees are safe to operate indoors.

“I’ve been proactive. Above and beyond what’s expected and what’s required,” said Pham. “All of my staff are wearing scrubs; they’re wearing PPE from head to toe just like an ICU nurse would be dealing with a COVID-19 patient. We exchange gloves with every client…I have suction devices at every station to suck away the airborne dust and we have dividers between us in the client as well as masks.”

Pham says working outdoors is also hurting the service she provides her customers.

“In the morning, there’s tons of direct sunlight,” said Pham. “So, we can’t work with our gels. Our products are getting ruined so now we’ll have to do only acrylic. That’s an added cost for our clients because acrylic is expensive.”

Leslie Silva and her husband own Big Jim’s Barber Shop in Franklin Square. Silva says they were open just one day and then had to close again.

“They said that we could all open. We were only open one day, and then had to close the following day. We were booked for the rest of that week, but we had to call everybody and be like, no,” said Silva.

She says she can’t reopen outdoors because it’s too physically and financially demanding on her and her husband.

“There’s so much that [cutting outside] entails because you have to have covered cans and this and that and a portable sink and all this stuff. They want you to wear full PPE, like if you’re in the doctor’s, with the shield and the mask and the gloves and the little paper gown thing and change out after every client. I don’t have funds to purchase all that stuff,” said Silva.

“Just the chairs alone. Our chairs are antique chairs,” Silva continued. “So, to be moving those in and out, in and out would be a really bad idea. They’re super heavy; super, super heavy. I don’t even know how much they weigh but it takes two men to lift them and they can barely lift them. So yeah, I’m just not going to buy some of that [stuff].”

Silva says the uncertainty is certainly taking its toll.

“As the weeks go on, you’re just like, when’s this going to end? Because you can only go for so long and then pretty soon is just like, what do you do?” said Silva. “I pay for everything at the shop and we’re not there. I pay for all the bills and insurance and everything. It’s just money going out with no money coming in.”

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