By John Ramos

PLEASANTON (CBS SF) — By following Covid-19 safety protocols, many businesses have been given the chance to reopen. But in Alameda County, the hair and nail salons are still locked up tight and some of them may soon stage a rebellion. 

About 30 stylists and owners from the Tri-Valley region of Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore met Saturday to discuss their frustration over the state’s and county’s rules not allowing them to reopen during the pandemic. They are concerned that if they don’t reopen soon, it could mean the end of their businesses.

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The Adobe Plaza shopping center in Pleasanton has a lot of “hands-on” businesses so it’s been hard hit by the shutdown. But while some have been allowed to reopen in outdoor settings, Flaunt Hair Designs has not.

“At first I DID understand…I don’t get it anymore, because it has been proven that we don’t spread it,” Flaunt owner Christine Palmer said.

Palmer is part of a large group of salon owners across the state who plan to reopen on Aug. 17, whether they have permission or not. 

Miranda Hankins, who also operates a salon suite, said they are taking their cue from another high-profile rebellion.

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“People say that defiance and protesting doesn’t work?” she said. “Look at Tesla. It worked.  They did not obey. They did what worked for them and they’re open now.”

(After the Tesla plant in Fremont reopened in May, over 100 workers reported contracting the virus.)

Other close-quarter businesses, like dentists and airlines have been allowed to open with safety precautions.  But the salon owners say the hair and nail industry has been considered ultra-dangerous because of an early misunderstanding.

“Our governor mistakenly said that the first case came from a nail salon and it’s been proven wrong. And ever since that moment, our industry has been targeted,” said Renae Earl, owner of Renae’s Styling Spa.

Other counties allow outdoor hair cutting, but so far Alameda County hasn’t. But Palmer wants to operate indoors and showed off all the safety protocols she’d put into effect: masks, sanitizers, distanced chairs and plastic partitions. She said they are the very protocols spelled out in Covid-19 regulations handed down by Cal OSHA.
“They’re not giving us a date to open even though they’ve given us the guidelines by which to do it!” Palmer said. “You’ve given us the guidelines. Let us follow them. Let us implement them and open our doors!”

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 The salon owners say right now they don’t know if the Aug. 17 protest will be a one-day event or if they will attempt to stay open in defiance of the county’s order. They say they just want what other industries have been given…a chance to show that they can operate safely. And while others may not consider them essential, their businesses are everything to them.