By Kenny Choi

VACAVILLE (CBS SF) — A defiant barber in Vacaville is becoming the voice of the shelter-in-place resistance and stirring up controversy.

He’s opening up his business way before the Governor is saying it’s okay. He’s been making national headlines on CNN and Fox News– getting both support and visceral hate messages on social media.

The former CHP officer says he has faith in leaders trying to open up the economy, but he has to hustle to make ends meet now.

Juan Desmarais is a single father who has a son and two daughters.

“I work hard,” Desmarais told KPIX 5. “I knew better than to ask for a PPP loan.”

Primo’s Barber Shop received a cease and desist letter when it opened its doors Friday, but nothingon Saturday.

“It’s been amazing,” Desmarais said. “We’re fully booked. A lot of people have been wanting haircuts.”

He’s either a hero or villain on social media.

“His eugenics-based argument is disgusting and all too common,” said Jo Kaur on Twitter. “Incredible how many people could care less about the health and well being of people more vulnerable than them.”

“I’ve worked the mean streets of Oakland and Richmond. I’ve dealt with a lot scarier guy than keyboard warriors,” said Desmarais.

He’s also getting support.

“I’m very aware the virus is a very scary thing. It’s been 45 days. It’s a power grab. It’s based on fear,” said Desmarais.

A recent poll from Berkeley IGS surveying more than 8000 Bay Area residents shows 69% are concerned about the health effects of ending shelter in place too soon, while 30% were more concerned about the economic effects if shelter in place ends too late.

“Know that I’m looking forward to answering your call and addressing your anxiety. It’s not lost on me,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“I’d like to tell Governor Newsom that you’ve had 45 days to get things squared away,” Desmarais said. “It’s time to open up our state and the economy,”

The former CHP officer says 4 of his employees are now back to work. He says he still has faith in leaders trying to open the economy while defying the stay at home order.

“Everyone is essential in this country and deserves a platform to live and to pursue happiness. It’s in the Constitution,” said Desmarais.

The owner says he could eventually open all three of his barber shops in Vacaville. Primo’s Barber Shop has seen an estimated 200 customers over the last two days.

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