On Wednesday, Stacy Godwin was supposed to celebrate the fourth anniversary of her Burbank hair salon.
Instead, Vanity by Stacy Godwin and many other businesses across California were told two days earlier to close.
“For salons, this is pretty devastating, because the majority of our licensing is sanitation and health,” Godwin said in a phone interview. “You learn more about keeping your client safe and healthy … than you actually learn about doing hair.”
Soon after California’s 7,000th COVID-19 death was reported, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that indoor services for restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, museums and wineries would have to close once again. Bars also were ordered to close all operations.
Many of the establishments had reopened or had been preparing to reopen after the governor eased restrictions in May and June, but a sudden spike in cases across California prompted a reversal of those decisions.
Counties — including Los Angeles — that have been on the state’s County Monitoring List for three consecutive days were also ordered to close many other services unless they can be held outside or via pickup. Fitness centers, worship services, nail salons, malls and offices for nonessential sectors were included in the order, as were hair salons and barbershops.
Godwin said she was on track to enter next year debt free before the coronavirus pandemic. She and her wife, who owns a brewery in Santa Clarita, were planning on having a baby.
Now, because of the closures, she has accumulated about $20,000 in debt. The plan to have kids is rapidly fading. Godwin is even considering selling her home to keep her and her wife’s businesses afloat.
“I’m fine with losing my home,” she said, “but we’re not fine losing our dream of our businesses.”
Some business owners have openly opposed the order. Steve Kharazian, who owns a barbershop on Victory Boulevard, said on social media that he had no intention of closing.
“If you’re scared, do what you gotta do. Stay home,” he said in a video posted to his Instagram account. “But let the rest of us do what we need to do. Everyone has a choice.”
Tom Flavin, CEO of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, said that when the organization surveyed more than 560 local businesses in June, their primary concern was the reopening process. Some businesses had to close permanently, he added, and this new wave of closures will likely add to that number.
“Unfortunately, our worst fears have come to fruition, in that we’re now reopening and closing again,” he said in a phone interview.
He said Burbank’s new ordinances that allow restaurants to expand outdoor seating could help some businesses, but noted that the orders don’t help hair salons, gyms and other places. The city also closed down parts of San Fernando Boulevard in downtown Burbank to vehicle traffic starting on Thursday to provide more outdoor dining space.
Mayor Sharon Springer said the city is looking for ways gym and salons can participate in that new space, but acknowledged that the equipment involved in those businesses could make doing so difficult. She added that the city staff is in contact with Los Angeles County representatives to see if any allowances can be made for those owners.
“[We] were just so aware of the pain, and we are speaking up and asking questions to see if anything can be done so these businesses can operate safely, because they certainly feel they can,” she said in a phone interview.
Richard Newton, owner of Richard’s Hair Salon in Burbank, said he supported the closure of San Fernando Boulevard to help his restaurant neighbors, but doubts many customers would want to have their hair cut in public. Besides, he added, regulatory protocols make doing so risky for hairdressers, since those who work outdoors risk losing their license.
“Nobody cares about us,” Newton said in a phone interview.
The Burbank Town Center closed indoor operations due to Newsom’s order, as did the local YMCA.
INDOOR PROTESTS BANNED
Protests, such as those that erupted across the nation after George Floyd died in Minneapolis while in police custody, were also included in Newsom’s monitoring list provision. However, he emphasized in his Monday announcement that this referred to indoor protests.
About 80% of Californians live in the counties on the monitoring list, he explained. Hospitalizations had increased 28% over two weeks.
“We were able to suppress the spread of this virus, we were able to knock down the growth of this in the beginning — we’re going to do that again. There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said in the announcement.
“I just want to encourage you to do what you know needs to be done, in terms of wearing that mask and physically distancing.”
The Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts also announced Monday that their students would be attending classes online in the fall. The Burbank Unified School District gave the same notice hours later.
Meanwhile, Godwin prepared to close her business — again. The Vanity salon didn’t celebrate its four-year anniversary like it was supposed to. Her hairdressers aren’t able to come to work.
And Godwin herself needs income — even, she said, if she has to put a station outside to cut hair on the street.
“I’m scared of losing my business that I’ve worked my whole life to build,” she adds.