A week after rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations moved Gov. Gavin Newsom to close indoor operations of many businesses, the state today released new guidelines for performing personal care services outside, something not previously permitted by state regulatory rules.

“Turns out, without getting into too many details, but issues of chemicals and shampoos and perms, it was more complicated than some may have considered,” Newsom said in a Monday briefing.

The new guidelines allow for hair salons and barbershops to perform hair services outside. They also allow skin, nail and massage services outside.

The primary guidance says that outdoor operations can be under a sun shelter or canopy as long as no more than one side is closed to allow for air movement. The salons and barbershops should not perform any services that would require a customer to have to enter the building, according to the rules.

Some of the other guidelines include:

  • Screenings for workers and customers before appointments
  • Displaying guidelines that require customers to wear masks, sanitize hands and physically distance if possible
  • Asking customers to come with hair freshly cleaned to lessen the time the appointment takes
  • Establishing an outdoor reception area
  • Staggering appointments to allow for sanitation between customers and suspending walk-in appointments
  • Implementing thorough disinfecting protocols

For a full list of regulations on hair services, click here. For a full list of regulations on other personal care services here

The state did not amend the rules for other services, like tattooing, piercing and electrolysis. Because they require a hygienic environment, they remain banned outside.

Salon owners, many of whom had just opened their doors again after being shut down for months, were skeptical whether the new rule would be of any benefit to businesses.

“I’m almost in shock at how unrealistic it is,” said Chris Hamrock, who co-owns Salon Wire in Zaferia with his sister Margeaux. Most of the usual services offered by his salon would be impossible to perform outside, he said.

“I don’t know how exactly they expect us to shampoo or do any color services,” Hamrock said. Both would require sinks and plumbing to be brought outside, to wash off residual shampoo and hair color. “Are we just supposed to hose it off?” Hamrock asked.

Sasha Gold, owner of Gold Salon and Boutique said this option for reopening once again puts the onus on salons to make significant investments with uncertain results. Salons like hers, which had just reopened after being broken into by looters on May 31, would have to charge more to make up for the costs associated with an outdoor setup. Gold said she doubts whether customers would be willing to pay extra to have their hair cut on the sidewalk or in a parking lot.

“It’s 90 degrees in Southern California and someone’s supposed to sit outside in a cape and mask? That sounds like borderline torture,” she said. “Are you going to charge more for that? Because I don’t know anyone who’d pay more for that.”

Gold said she agrees with closing indoor spaces again until it’s safe to reopen, but wishes there was a more thought-out plan for reopening that followed tangible benchmarks, to avoid the whiplash of reopening and closing that hers and other industries are experiencing.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have reopened,” Gold said. “It makes me feel like we were test subjects and it didn’t go so hot.” The current approach felt uncoordinated to her. “It’s like they’re just throwing their hands up,” she said.

Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ValerieOsier