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Alameda County salons fear permanent closures, push to reopen

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ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Owners of hair and nail salons in Alameda County say they’re past a breaking point.

Some fear if the county does not allow them to resume business soon — they’ll soon be out of business.

On Saturday, a group of stylists rallied in Pleasanton. They are strongly considering re-opening their salons with or without the county’s consent.

It’s a risk Christine Palmer is willing to take.

Re-opening flaunt hair designs — without approval from Alameda County.

“We’ll take your temperature, give you the screening questions, hand sanitizer, masks,” Palmer said.

Palmer says her salon — located at Adobe Plaza in Pleasanton — has remained closed since the county ordered a shelter-in-place back in March.

“I’m well into tens of thousands of dollars in back rent,” Palmer said.

And, as her debt climbs — so does her frustration with the county public health department.

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom released updated state guideliness for personal care services to re-open outdoors during the pandemic.

But the county has yet to approve those operations.

Like all other Bay Area counties, Alameda is still on the state’s COVID-19 watch list.

But other counties, like Contra Costa have relaxed their health orders to allow salons to run in some capacity.

“We should be called essential workers,” Salon owner Christine Palmer said.

On Saturday, Palmer organized a rally outside her salon where more than 30 local stylist gathered — and committed to re-opening their businesses in solidarity.

“I am reopening my business August 17,” Miranda Hankins said.

The group admits the move carries with it serious risks, like a viral outbreak at their salon.

They could possibly lose their unemployment benefits, face fines and a potential permanent closure.

But they feel backed up against a wall.

“I am very concerned about the virus, and I do respect the virus,” Salon manager Lila Robinson said. “I want to be very realistic about that. but there needs to be a way that we can make money.”

“Have you ever lived with somebody who doesn’t like their hair? Just saying. That can be miserable,” Muriel Bonnell said.

Palmer says even if the county approves outdoor salon services — it wouldn’t be feasible for her.

She needs to operate indoors and, can do it safely.

“I feel safer to come get your hair done then it is to go to the grocery store, because I don’t know who touched that tomato,” Palmer said.

Palmer intends to submit a petition to the county signed by other stylists — demanding approval to open back up.

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