Stylists, salon owners protest Alameda Co. health department over outdoor service

At Insignia in Walnut Creek, the parking lot has been transformed into a hair salon.

Stylists work under tents. Chemical treatments, coloring , even shampoos are not allowed.

The configuration allows for about 20% of normal business. But 20% is better than nothing.

"We are so lucky we have this space. Our landlord or neighbors; everyone is cooperating. They gave us their parking spots so we could operate here. We're happy," says Insignia owner Regina Muslimova.

In the hair salon world, in the era of COVID-19, by opening outside Insignia can be considered one of the haves.

But many more of them consider themselves among the have nots.

A small group of salon owners and stylistst protested outside the Alameda County Public Health Department in downtown Oakland. They are upset. The logistics of their shops don't allow for outdoor service.

"Unfortunately, it is not an option," says Marisa Cabrera who has been doing color and extensions at Maven & Co in Pleasanton for the past three years.

"Our shop is located upstairs in a building and there is no way i can bring down chairs. To set up a tent, there is no space outside for a tent. It is hot and it isn't feasible for our salon in particular," Cabrera says.

Even if it was feasible, unlike neighboring Contra Costa County, Alameda County Public Health is not allowing outdoor hair salons.

That restriction is in place despite governor Gavin Newsom's new guidelines, which do permit it. But local counties have the last word.

The Alameda County Public Health Department says in a statement that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.

"We do not intend to open any new sectors at this time, and will continue to monitor developments in state and local indicators to inform next steps," the statements reads.

"This has to stop. We have to have options. We have to have a discussion..I can't pay my rent. I had a baby in February. I haven't been able to work since then," says Cabrera.

"I'm so sad for the salon owners that don't have this kind of space and they can't work," said Muslimova, Insignia's owner.

The salon owners say all they want is a chance to discuss with various leaders how they can open indoors--safely.