Allow beauty industry professionals to open in NYS with REALISTIC guidelines

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My name is Lauren Metz and I own a salon studio in Williamsville, New York. I have been in the industry for 16 years now and have built a strong, loyal clientele throughout those years in business. This pandemic has been devastating not just to each of us as an individual but to our economy as well, specifically small businesses.

Most of us as small business owners have had to jump through hoops to obtain government assistance such as PPP loans and unemployment. To the detriment of waiting 2 months to receive our first unemployment check, while most of us still waiting on backpay for the prior weeks filed.

Upon news of phase one opening we have all been getting prepared for business to resume in phase two. Not only have we waited for a definitive date to re open without gaining clarification on that exact date, but we were also hit with extremely strict guidelines per governor Andrew Cuomo as of Friday, May 29th. I know I am not alone in feeling like we have been isolated in our restrictions compared to any other businesses that have either already opened, have been waiting to open, or have been essential all along. I have many clients that serve as front line workers who have not been state mandated to be tested every 14 days when they are directly working with COVID-19 positive patients. We as stylists have been told we were “non essential”, which means every client has a choice to come in for a service. I don’t consider it fair for our governor to get on a live feed telling clients to demand to see we have, and continue to be tested, when we are not mandated to require that from the clients that are sitting in our chair. Quite honestly, it’s invasive.

We as cosmetologists are required to complete 1,000 hours in NYS to gain a temporary license. Beyond that we are required to take both a written and practical exam, where sanitation is the number one focus. I cannot speak on behalf of the entire beauty industry community in Buffalo, NY but I know that most of us have voluntarily completed a barbicide certification in advanced guidance in sanitation, because that is our number one priority. It’s unclear to me how major retailers have been able to be open and operate without these restrictions when they are seeing hundreds of people a day, touching items that hundreds of people a day have touched and exchanging cards and money.

I am fully on board with keeping the health and safety of both my clients and myself in the forefront, which is why I am in compliance with sanitation stations, masking myself and my client, and limiting services to one person per appointment. Please understand by simply abiding by these guidelines we are cutting our business in half, not to mention the extra 15 minutes booked in between each client to properly sanitize. But to draw things even further we are required to fill out extensive paperwork, wear both a shield and a mask, apron or gown, and be tested every 14 days. That just seems absurd when no other industry is required to do so including healthcare and chiropractic to just name a few, which I can easily argue is more contact that we have in the beauty industry.

I have become aware that well known salons in the area such are refusing to open under phase 2 for the simple fact that if there are that many guidelines in place, why should any of us feel safe enough to open?

I will again state, if these guidelines were put in place to any industry that has personal contact with people, we would all completely understand and comply. At this point, even those who are not in the beauty industry find these restrictions absurd as we seem to be the only category having to abide by such tight restrictions. I have been looking forward to resuming business more than anything, yet both myself and most of my industry feels it is unjust to be working under these conditions, while other states are operating under little to none. I can confidently say this virus does not spread any differently from county to county or state to state or globally for that matter. In that defense, other states have been up and operating in the beauty industry without these restrictions and have seen no spike in cases.

I recognize the severity of this pandemic, and as stated before first and foremost the safety of both my clients and I is my number one priority, I just feel like this is an issue that needs to be addressed, as it will ultimately further effect our business.

I appreciate you taking the time to both read and understand this matter and I hope with strength in numbers we can come to a reasonable resolution.

Kind Regards,

Lauren Metz