Salons, barbershops plan to sue California governor demanding to reopen

FILE: A woman had her hair cut and colored at a beauty salon in Santa Monica, California on March 18, 2015.

The organization representing more than 500,000 individuals working in California’s beauty and barbering industry plans to file a lawsuit against Governor Newsom after state regulators threatened to pull the licenses of any salons violating the shelter in place orders.  The Professional Beauty Federation of California (PBFC) announced it is working with San Francisco-based Center for American Liberty, to demand the reopening of salons and barbershops.

“While our industry stood in solidarity with Governor Newsom’s original order to ‘flatten the contagion curve’ so as to not overwhelm our healthcare providers, we believe our state has met that noble goal,” said PBFC president Ted Nelson in a statement.  “A shutdown of our salons and beauty schools cannot extend additional ‘months not weeks’, as the Governor announced on April 28, without devastating consequences to the livelihood and businesses of tens of thousands of California citizens.  Nor do we believe an extended lockdown of our salons is medically necessary to continue to combat the coronavirus.”

The announcement comes as the state regulatory agency, the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, warned licensees about violating stay-at-home orders. “If businesses continue to put public health and safety at risk by not following the state and local shelter in place orders, and if circumstances warrant it, the Board may pursue disciplinary action against their license. This will not be taken lightly,” the Board said in a release.

Governor Newsom announced details of a phased-reopening of the state’s economy this week. On Friday, some retail businesses will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup, in what he’s called “Phase 2,” in a four-step plan.

Salons and barbershops are part of Phase 3, which the governor said the state is not yet ready for.  He recently scolded Yuba and Sutter counties for allowing salons to open this week, calling it a “big mistake.” “They’re putting the public at risk, they’re putting our progress at risk,” Newsom said. “They put those businesses at risk, not only the health of those communities at risk.”

PBFC leadership said a continued closure could lead to an increase in unsafe visits to client’s homes, instead of licensed facilities.  “Governor Newsom cannot change the goalposts in the middle of the game by transitioning from reducing the contagion curve to stopping the spread altogether by extending the shutdown for several more months,” said PBFC legal counsel Fred Jones.  “If he does, most of our barbers, stylists, manicurists, and skincare professionals and the businesses they operate in will either fold up shop altogether or resume their livelihoods in open defiance to feed their families and keep their businesses afloat.”

The Center for American Liberty has filed several lawsuits against the governor related to the coronavirus response.   "This time, Governor Newsom is denying over half a million licensed, highly trained professionals their human right to earn a living, and is using the strong arm of the law to punish and grind them into submission," said Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Liberty and prominent California Republican, Harmeet Dhillon.  “Governor Newsom’s unilateral edits regarding the COVID situation, which is no longer a health crisis so much as a growing civil rights crisis, are increasingly irrational and even cruel.”

 We have reached out to the Governor's office for comment.