By Taryn Luna
Los Angeles Times
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued welcome news Tuesday for some shaggy Californians and struggling stylists: Counties can begin reopening hair salons and barbershops.
The move to resume salon services, under a county-by-county approach, marks the transition in many parts of the state to Stage 3 of Newsom’s reopening plan. Meanwhile, confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and appear on track to nearly double in May.
Despite the growth in coronavirus infections, the governor has eased many of the restrictions of his original stay-at-home order over the last month, pointing to steady hospitalizations as proof that California is bending the curve.
Newsom urged Californians to maintain a physical distance from one another and, when that’s not possible, to wear face coverings.
“The reality is, this has just begun,”Newsom said. “It hasn’t ended. And while we are moving forward because of stabilization, because of the good work that’s been done by health officials all across this nation, all across the state of California specifically to suppress the spread of this virus, by no stretch of the imagination is this virus behind us.”
Newsom said counties that elected to reopen salons must meet the criteria to move ahead of the current statewide restrictions and require shops to take precautions to protect workers and patrons. To date, Newsom said 47 out of 58 California counties had met the state’s regional standards, which include preparations to increase hospital capacity, testing and supplies of protective equipment.
The governor unveiled the new directive for salons the day after his administration issued statewide guidelines for religious services, calling on houses of worship to limit attendance to 25% of capacity, conduct health screenings of congregants and take other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Amid mounting pressure from protesters and President Trump, state health officials strongly recommended that churches continue remote services to protect the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
The Newsom administration on Monday also allowed retail stores to reopen in California, shifting away from an earlier patchwork approach that permitted in-person shopping only in counties that met the state’s criteria.
Retailers are advised to limit the number of patrons in stores at one time, to urge the use of face masks by employees and customers, and to provide hand sanitizer, in addition to other guidelines.
Under Newsom’s original four-stage reopening plan, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other grooming services, gyms, sports competitions in empty stadiums and religious services were slated to reopen in Stage 3.
The fourth and final stage would mark the end of the stay-at-home order and all restrictions, allowing people to return to concerts and sporting events, which the governor previously noted was unlikely to occur until a vaccine became widely available.
As of Tuesday, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California had reached 96,678 while 3,773 people had died, according to the L.A. Times’ coronavirus tracker.