Hair salons push for expanded capacity

Jennifer Lewke
Created: April 16, 2021 05:44 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Hair salons across New York State continue to be limited to 50% capacity and owners and stylists say the restrictions are making it hard for them to make ends meet.

This time last year, salons and barbershops across the state were shut down. They went 10 weeks with no income before being allowed to re-open under very strict state guidelines.

“We followed everything, I spent a ton of money… we have all hospital-grade sanitation,” said Donna Moak, the owner of Strands Hair Studio in Fairport.

Moak says she’s happy to keep safety protocols in place but the capacity restrictions are making it nearly impossible for her stylists to make enough money to cover their bills.

“These are young families, they have young children at home and they're also struggling with the school situation so it's been super hard. We are a small business, we've been here for a long time... the whole industry was hit hard,” Moak said.  

Salon owners have been asking for expanded capacity, especially now that vaccination efforts are well underway but they haven’t heard a word from the state and feel like they may have been forgotten.

“When a restaurant is allowed to open at 75% and people take their masks off… we're still at 50% a year later it's very frustrating, it's very frustrating,” Moak said.

On Friday, during his briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the rate at which he’s making changes saying, “I believe our calibration and the reduction of restrictions and the progress on COVID has been correct. I don't think we've been overly restrictive I don't think we've been overly permissive and that's the calibration that we weigh every day.”

In a statement to News10NBC, a spokesman for the NYS Department of Health failed to provide any specific timeline saying, “Our guidance for hair salons has provided the tools for salons and barbers to safely conduct business during this pandemic.  We will continue to review the science and data and will revise our guidance when appropriate, but now is not the time for people to let their guard down. New Yorkers should continue wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, washing their hands and getting vaccinated.”

News10NBC also reached out to the head of the Finger Lakes Control Room, Bob Duffy. His office says they are advocating for salons but also hearing from the state that capacity won’t be expanded until transmission rates come down.

Moak is hoping she can hold on that long.

“This industry was hit so hard and it's been a financial hardship across the board for the salons,” Moak said.

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