Frustration builds as some East Bay stylists resume outdoor operations, others keep waiting

At the Tribez Hair Salon in Contra Costa County Monday, stylists say it was a long time coming. It was the first time in a long time they were allowed to work indoors.

"I feel blessed for being able to come to work. And having that taken away has thrown many of us straight into a deep depression. This is a wonderful thing to happen to us right now," said stylist Renee Sepulveda.

Under a new color-coded system that Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled Friday, Contra Costa, like all Bay Area Counties except San Francisco and Napa, is in the purple tier, the lowest ranking for reopenings. But it does allow for indoor malls to operate at 25 percent capacity and for hair salons to move back inside, provided they adhere to proper safety protocols.

MORE: Bay Area guide to COVID-19 rules: What each county allows

Each county health officer has ultimate say in their jurisdiction. Contra Costa County health officials gave the okay.

But drive a few minutes to Alameda County, and it's a different set of rules.

Hair salons can operate outdoors only. But very few have the space for that. That means Alameda County customers can simply head to Contra Costa for a haircut.

"We are losing clients because of it. 100 percent. I don't blame them," said stylist Jen Hatcher.

City leaders in the tri-cities of Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore, just across the border from Contra Costa County, have asked Alameda County for a special exemption. They were denied.

"By just crossing a county line, that makes a difference to the virus? I just don't understand that,” said Dublin Mayor David Haubert. “It makes me wonder if our message is getting through to the health officers, I just can't understand it.”

UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist Dr. John Swartzberg said that if you're asking for consistency, it doesn't make sense.

"In one county they are making the calculation that it is too risky to be inside. In another county, they are saying we don't think it is too risky to be inside," he said. "The individual is really the one who has to make the decision."

Rob Roth is a reporter for KTVU. Email Rob at and follow him on Twitter@RobRothKTVU