Keep hands-on professionals out of Phase 1 reopening in Oregon

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On May 5, Kate Brown released draft guidelines naming hairdressers and other hands- on service based industries in phase 1 of reopening. The draft requires extensive sanitation and screening of employees and clients, keeping these documents filed for 60 days in the event of an outbreak. In addition, social distancing of 6 feet is mandatory between clients and employees, which we clearly know to be impossible when personal care services require personal touch, putting the service providers health at risk as well as the client. We need to take immediate action and send a resounding “NO” to phase 1 openings for hands on professionals for the following reasons:

1) One cannot socially distance and simultaneously touch you. Avoiding this fact puts us in direct danger of contracting the virus.

2)PPE and cleaning supplies that are helpful against COVID-19 are in high demand and in short supply and thus are unsustainable. These enhanced measures add greatly to our overhead and operational flow, and with reduced client capacity, this stands to further impact our business. It is also worth mentioning that though PPE is helpful, healthcare professionals are still getting infected through their protective covering, and so will we. Further, as essential workers, they are in need of these supplies far more than we are, and we should not be pulling supplies from folks saving lives.

3)Loss of productivity and threat of permanent closure are imminent. In Phase 1, we would be operating with increased overhead and decreased ability to serve our clients, therefore operating at a loss for an indefinite amount of time. With ourselves and our small businesses receiving very little in the way of personal relief, business grants/loans, or rent/mortgage freezes, we are looking down the barrel of financial devastation.

4)Our quality of service is greatly compromised. We cannot offer the same level of attention and care when managing all of these new pieces of protocol- they only serve to underscore the fact that it is not a safe environment to be in at this juncture. On May 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom stated that the spread of the corona virus began in a nail salon, and state health directors have put some “red flags” on nail salons as a high-risk business, Newsom added, “likening them to gyms and hair salons”. Though we are trained in salon- appropriate sanitation practices, All of these elements reiterate that we are simply not ready for safe and reasonable re-entry.

5) By being forced to work in an unsafe situation we are also forced into increased liability and the possibility of litigation since most of our insurance policies don’t cover pandemics. The possibility that we might be found liable for someone’s death has not been mentioned as potential fallout by our leaders.

It is dehumanizing to require clients to be 6 feet away but not the service provider. You have collectively failed to acknowledge that hairdressers are a part of this equation and have not protected us as service providers. It is obvious that we cannot touch and comply with 6 feet of distance even with proposed protective measures. Working under these conditions heightens our risk of contraction at this time, and we aim to protect the health of our clients and ourselves in earnest. We also want to protect our ability to do good business and offer our clients the best services possible. We will not be able to make a profit when we have to cut our business at least in half, and premature reopening is condemning us to work to lose money and expose ourselves and by extension our loved ones at home to get sick. This is unconscionable.

This is why we are asking for last phase of reopening. With that, we desperately need the unemployment benefits that were extended to us and guaranteed by the State & Federal government, and an extension of those funds. Additionally, rent/mortgage relief that will sustain us until we can return to work safely. As Oregonians, we are so proud of our progress so far in flattening the curve, and want to continue to do our part to protect ourselves and our communities until further containment of the virus can be achieved. Please take these things into consideration so we can collaborate with compassion.


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