Durham salons hit hard by pandemic anxiously wait to reopen

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) –Durham salons and barbershops have been hit hard financially as they have been forced to close under the state of North Carolina’s stay-at-home order.

Gail Clay, owner of Gail’s Hair Gallery in Durham, was forced to close her salon back in March.

“I actually miss doing hair and I miss my customers,” Clay said. “I love it with a passion, so to not be here, it’s so different.”

The current order from the state of North Carolina does not allow anyone with a cosmetology license to cut hair, whether it be at the salon or at a client’s home.

Clay has had to rely on her second job as a school bus driver for Durham Public Schools to get by.

“For the last three months, I’ve only been able to pay my mortgage and my salon rent,” Clay said.

But with school out this summer, she said she won’t have the extra income coming in.

“At the same time, I would rather be at home safe with no income, than working and making lots of money and at any given time I could get sick, or get my customers sick,” Clay said.

State leaders had contemplated allowing hair salons to open during phase 2 of the reopening plan. However, right now they are still waiting to see if that is possible.

“We still see a lot of the virus here and we want to be sure that we’re not going to see a surge of cases,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners has been in contact with Governor Roy Cooper about reopening plans for salons.

Some of their suggestions include requiring face coverings be worn in the salon, only allowing one client in the building at a time, and wiping down the chairs and shampoo bowls in between clients.

While Clay is eager to reopen, she does not want to open too soon.

“I am all for health over wealth, but it’s safer to wait,” Clay said.

Senator Phil Berger from Rockingham said on Wednesday that salons and barbershops should be able to reopen.               

He argued that 25 states, including nearly every state in the Southeast, has allowed salons and barber shops to reopen.

Senator Berger argued that these business owners need to make a living and that they should be able to get back to work if they practice proper social distancing.

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