Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
As Texas’ stay-at-home order expires Thursday, some nonessential businesses are eager to get back to work, while others, such as hair salons and barbershops, feel slighted because they still must wait weeks before getting the go-ahead to reopen their doors.
They’re arguing they already kept work stations clean before the coronavirus outbreak.
Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest executive order issued Monday, all cosmetology salons, including nail salons, estheticians, and mini-salons, laser hair removal, barbershops and massage establishments must remain closed until at least May 18.
Meanwhile, other nonessential businesses, like movie theaters, retail stores and shopping malls, can operate at 25 percent capacity beginning Friday. Restaurants can once again open their dining rooms provided customers maintain appropriate social distancing. Museums and libraries were also cleared to reopen starting Friday, but the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi chose to remain closed until at least May 18 since they have mostly more interactive exhibits.
Owner of BB 63 Salon in Fort Worth, Cozzette Labelle, told Fox News on Wednesday she was disappointed that Abbott allowed movie theaters, which are open to the general public, to reopen before hair salons, given stylists already must follow stringent sanitation procedures to maintain their state cosmetology licenses.
“We work in a sterile environment and with people we know for the most part. I was disappointed they get to open because we already have to clean so thoroughly. If we took the precautions, it would be safer, of course, if the clients are willing to do it,” Labelle said.
Labelle told Fox News she had already begun regularly bleaching her salon and wearing a mask in mid-March, but that couldn’t stop clients from calling to postpone their appointments, saying they were afraid to come in amid fears they’d become infected.
Meanwhile, about 385 miles away along the Gulf Coast, beaches in Port Aransas, Texas, have already reopened Monday just ahead of the busy summer months when tourism brings life into coastal economies. Owners of Amelia's Landing Hotel Jay and Mary Honeck said they’ve been taking a flood of reservations all week before they can finally start accommodating guests on Friday.
“Now that we are being allowed a chance to survive by our own government, I think we will concentrate on that for now,” Jay Honeck told Fox News. Acknowledging that other business owners feel the stay-at-home order is being lifted too soon, he told KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, “Everyone's got to have common sense. Social distancing still works. Wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable."
But while government restrictions ease for some, Labelle, a wife and mother to two young children, said she feels she's been "put in a dark place" trying to support her family. A statewide stay-at-home order went into effect at 6 p.m. on March 21. That means the salon owner will be out of work for 10 weeks until she can reopen her doors.
She told Fox News on Wednesday that she has not received her stimulus check, and has been denied unemployment since she is self-employed. She said seven applications for small business loans are still pending. Since her husband, a helicopter mechanic, classified as an essential worker, his salary is now the family’s main source of income.
“We have two small kids, and it takes both of our salaries, and not every person we have debt owed to is accommodating, and we haven’t received any assistance from the federal government," she said. “My clientele has really come through for me. It was so stressful to see my business go from having this momentum to then come to a screeching halt."
She explained her clients have been “blessings and breaths of fresh air” and have helped restore her "faith in humanity” by pre-paying for their salon services to help hold her over financially.
“You question whether people are coloring at home now and think, ‘Well, this was easy, I’m not going to go back to the salon.’ You worry whether business will ever be the same, but it’s comforting knowing you’re not the only one going through this. That you’re not alone.”
Texas, as of Wednesday, recorded at least 26,171 confirmed coronavirus cases, with at least 690 deaths, according to the state Health Department. At least 1,702 people remain hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19, while at least 11,786 people have recovered.