Tye Featherstone, owner and founder of the Great American Barbershop, a multi-location chain with a store in Clovis, has organized a petition to Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging him to reconsider classifying barber shops and cosmetologists as essential businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition follows suit to others of the same sort that have already been launched in other parts of the state, such one by Chris Bair, owner of Shorty’s Barbershop in West Hollywood.
It calls for 5,000 signatures, and has just under 2,600 as of May 15.
Featherstone said he started the petition because his industry isn’t just about the jobs commonly associated with barbershops and hair salons, but also being first responders to potential health issues related to skin care.
“It’s more than girls and guys just needing to get their hair done,” Featherstone said. “We look at nail techs as an example. Every week they do lots of people who are on standing appointments because they have diabetes and things like that.”
Featherstone said that fungal infections are very dangerous to people that are diabetic, making it imperative that they have their nails taken care of on a regular basis.
As board certified licensees, workers in the industry are trained for 1,500 or more hours, devoted in large part to disease and infection control as mandated by Center for Disease Control guidelines.
Not having these appointments, Featherstone said, is putting Californians at a greater risk of more serious health complications.
Barbershops and cosmetologists can help identify lesions, gland disorders, acne and most importantly some types of skin cancers.
Board certified licensees are certified to apply certain topical prescriptions under the advice of a licensed primary-care physician.
“There’s no other industry that’s out there that’s more safe than we are and we think that [Gov. Newsom] needs to reconsider because we feel that Californians are being put at risk because they aren’t able to see what the first responders do,” Featherstone said.
In order to comply with safety measures for the customers and avoid transmitting the virus, Featherstone said that his business will eliminate the use of cash, and perform temperature checks for the barbers and have clients check into their appointments online instead of an in-person kiosk.
Clients would receive a text message giving them the go-ahead to enter the shop in order to comply with the order to have fewer than 10 people in the shop at one time.
If reallowed to reopen, Featherstone said that his barbershop also would continue to follow CDC guidelines and training, including washing and sanitizing work stations between customers and disinfecting tools.