Cut, washed, styled and dyed? Gov. DeSantis supports reopening hair salons — but not just yet

Empty hair salon station. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings recently reached out to the Florida governor about reopening hair salons, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that he’s in support, though it won’t be right away.

At a roundtable discussion on the issue at a salon in Orlando, DeSantis stressed the importance of proper safety measures in place for salon owners and stylists.

“[The] Mayor reached out about looking at the barber shops and salons,” DeSantis said. “If you’re doing things that are safe and the risk is small, you have a right to apply your craft…we want to be judicious, methodical and safe about it. I think that there will be an opportunity to do it.”

Hair salons across the country have been shuttered for months to contain COVID-19 outbreaks amid a global pandemic, a crisis that has changed American lives. Getting your hair cut, washed, styled and dyed has been a challenge for elderly and young people alike.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visits Orlando hair salon; discusses reopening salons in the future. Credit: Screenshot, Florida Channel.

Even DeSantis bemoaned his hair situation.

“I mean I haven’t had a haircut in two months, not that that’s the important thing, I am coming on a mullet almost because of how much my hair has grown,” the governor said.

The meeting at the OhSoooJazzy Hair Salon in Orlando included city officials and salon owners, and Mayor Demings said hair salons in his area are ready to reopen its doors. “They convinced me that they were able to open with the right sanitary measures in place,” Demings said.

Hair salon owners at the meeting told the governor that they are preparing with a supply of face masks for stylists and stocking up on hand sanitizer. They also plan to take appointments to prevent crowded salons that could potentially spread the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Florida’s reopening task force plans to work on safety recommendations and guidance for hair salon owners to reopen safely and discuss with cosmetology experts, DeSantis added.

The first phase of the reopening included partial access to restaurants and retail establishments, and the opening of state parks to a limited degree, but did not include hair salons.

“I think what we would like to do, is try to get a set of best practices and maybe we’ll run it through the cosmetology board,” DeSantis said. “I think we are going to deal with it in a way that’s safe.”

Ensuring that elderly clients are safe when getting their hair done is also important, the governor said.

The safety issue is important as the governor launches phase-ins for boosting the economy, even as infections and deaths continue to rise. As of Saturday, the Florida Department of Health reported 35,463 COVID-19 infections and 1,364 deaths. In both measures, the numbers increased compared to Friday.

Overall, though, DeSantis remained positive about getting hair salons open.

“I think at the end of the day it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” DeSantis said of plans to reopen hair salons in Florida.

Meanwhile, a barber shop owner in Orlando at the meeting expressed his frustration with the federal Paycheck Protection Program, and not being able to get funds.

DeSantis said he is going to work with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to get out more information to the public about the PPP loan program, which provides funds for small business owners to maintain payrolls through the CARES Act passed in Congress.

“What you saw is a lot of bigger companies were getting the money,” DeSantis said. “People took that, and we ran out of money on that…we’re going to work with the federal government, they want to get it right.”

“I think the small businesses really need it…the small businesses are the engine,” DeSantis said.