By Maria Medina

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Hairdressers and barbers hope they can convince Gov. Gavin Newsom to waive a state law that prohibits them from working outdoors.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and the Professional Beauty Federation of California held a virtual news conference Thursday announcing their intent to send a letter appealing to Newsom to allow hair salons and barbershops to operate outside, much like restaurants have been permitted to do.

Despite strict guidelines for reopening, most of the industry has been shuttered since the stay-at-home began in March.

Erica Martin, a hairdresser for Embellish Hair Lounge in Campbell, was among the stylists in Santa Clara county who worked for 48 hours before the state ordered salons and barbershops to shut down amid a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“I don’t know if they even understand this is going to ruin our industry,” said Martin.

Alicia Watanbe is a hair stylist at Visual Image Salon, which is located in Alameda county. It has never been given the green light to reopen.

“The beauty industry is dying right now,” Watanbe said. “Some of my own co-workers are working at grocery stores and other places right now to even keep their families through it, surviving.”

To help the stylists hit the ground running, once the salon doors reopen, Watanabe created a GoFundMe.

A state law, section 7317 of the Business and Professions Code, doesn’t allow cosmetology and barbering outdoors. But Patterson said Gov. Newsom could easily waive it.

“There are hearts and lives getting broken here,” said Patterson. “To do for the spas and the barber shops what he did for those in restaurants that were going outside.”

Both Watanabe and Martin said they’re concerned about not getting paid but they’re worried that when they’re allowed to go back to business, they won’t have the clientele they worked so hard to gain.

“Our clients are done, they are going to go to other counties, San Mateo county is still open,” Martin said. “When they finally give us a date to return, where are our clients? They’re in other stylists’ chairs that have been able to remain open.”

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