‘It’s about time’: Salons, barbershops rejoice at chance to open once again

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Say goodbye to that quarantine hair.

Frank Roby, owner of Mr. Roby’s Barber Shop in Del Mar, Calif., works on a customer’s hair on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Shops like Mr. Roby’s were rejoicing at the news of the end of California’s regional stay-at-home orders, allowing them to reopen after being shut down for the past seven weeks. (Kelsey Christensen)

Personal care services such as salons and barbershops finally are able to reopen after state public health officials Monday lifted all of the California’s regional stay-at-home orders. Having spent the past seven weeks largely in limbo as the pandemic worsened and capacity in ICUs tightened, many are rejoicing at the chance to welcome back customers.

“I thank God for it — it’s about time,” said Frank Roby, owner of Mr. Roby’s Barber Shop in Del Mar.

Roby said the change, which was announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom, “came out of nowhere.” He didn’t expect it and it came not a moment too soon for his shop.

“I had to come to terms with the fact that these doors may never open again,” Roby said, adding, “I mean, it got really tight. We had a Christmas season. I have children — it was rough.”

Fortunately for him, Mr. Roby’s already is booked up with appointments. But a sense of uncertainty remains as it pertains to small businesses in the region.

Roby said it’s important to keep a keen eye on safety, though he argues it’s also critical to rally for his industry and others.

“There’s no ICU for the economy,” he said.

San Diego County has recorded more than 228,000 COVID-19 infections and 2,375 deaths related to the virus. As of Monday, nearly 1,500 San Diegans are hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 424 people in the ICU.

Asked about the decision to end the stay-at-home orders Monday, Newsom pointed to the state’s current projections which estimate Southern California’s ICU capacity will reach 33.3% by Feb. 21.

The region’s current capacity is still estimated at 0%, but Newsom said the future projection is based on current hospital capacity, transmission rates, case rates and the proportion of COVID patients who need to be admitted to the ICU.

Jean Claude Salon also is preparing to reopen their doors on Tuesday.

Owner Jean Claude said they’ve deep-cleaned the salon, added hand sanitizer to each station and a thermometer at the door. The shop plans to bring back up to half of its hair stylist with hope for more as restrictions loosen.

Claude said they’re excited, but also “apprehensive” about reopening.

“We are optimistic that we’ll actually not result in any further closure,” he said. “We believe the vaccine is going to be a good, positive thing.”

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