Group of NC hair salon owners plans to file lawsuit over COVID-19 restrictions

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A group of hair salon owners plans to file a lawsuit this week against Gov. Roy Cooper as they seek to reopen their businesses sooner than called for in Cooper’s reopening plan.

“All we’re trying to do is focus on getting back to work so we can feed our families, pay our bills and do what we need to do to survive,” said Adele Ange, owner of Adele’s Salon in Jamesville.

She’s behind a group called “Hair is Essential Association.”

When Cooper moved the state into phase one of the reopening plan on May 8, that did not allow businesses such as hair and nail salons, gyms and other industries — where there can be close personal contact between people — to open.

“To both the customers and the people who are performing these services, you both have real responsibilities here to protect each other,” he said Monday.

Chuck Kitchen, an attorney representing the association sent the governor a letter last week asking for the restrictions on salons to be lifted by noon Monday. Ange said they did not receive a response.

Cooper said Monday the state could still move into phase two Friday, and an announcement could come by mid-week. Phase two would allow hair salons and barbershops to open but with reduced capacity. It’s not clear what all the requirements will be in place for businesses in phase two.

Ange said when she reopens she plans to take customers’ temperatures, only allow one person in her business at a time, sanitize all the equipment between customers and ask them to wear masks.

“We’re taking this very serious, and we act as though everyone who comes in may have it,” said Ange.

Like thousands of other people across the state, she’s struggled to get her unemployment claim processed with the state’s Division of Employment Security. Ange says she still has not received any benefits. Her last day of business was nearly two months ago — on March 25.

“And, I’m the owner. So, all my bills are still coming. I haven’t received any unemployment, any help yet,” she said.

Greg Wallace, a constitutional law professor at Campbell Law School, said the hair salon owners could have a difficult time winning a case in court. Over the weekend, a federal judge ruled in favor of church leaders who sought to reopen houses of worship while maintaining social distancing.

“There’s no constitutional right to get a haircut,” he said. “Other businesses are subject to social distancing rules, and that’s just not going to be possible with hair salons.”

Phase one of the reopening plan allowed businesses to open at 50 percent capacity as long as social distancing and cleaning protocols are followed.

“They’re full of people who are not protected, who are not staying six feet apart from each other, yet we’re told in an environment where we’re already sanitary that we can’t have one person at a time and take extra measures to make sure everybody is protected,” Ange said.

Khedron Mims, owner of Rivals Barber Shop in Durham, told CBS17 last week he’s ready to reopen. But, he supported the decision by city and county leaders to extend the local stay-at-home order.

“I think the most important thing is making sure that we’re safe as a whole in our community and if that means the stay-at-home order has to be extended, then I’m all for it,” he said.

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