In a surprise move, Gov. DeSantis decides to reopen barbershops, hair and nail salons in FL

Barbershops, hair and nail salons to reopen in Florida. J Henry's Barber Shop in Orlando makes the announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis' Twitter feed. Credit: Ron DeSantis Twitter account.

Just last Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis visited an Orlando hair salon, talking with owners and city officials about the possibility of reopening barbershops, hair and nail salons, using proper safety procedures.

“If you’re doing things that are safe and the risk is small, you have a right to apply your craft,” the governor said that day. “We want to be judicious, methodical and safe about it. I think that there will be an opportunity to do it.”

That opportunity comes Monday, in a surprise move by the governor to allow the reopening of the salons across the state. That excludes the two big southeast counties — Broward and Miami-Dade.

Palm Beach had been a part of the three-county epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, but now Palm Beach will reopen as well on Monday.

The governor had not included that reopening of the salons in “Phase 1” of a plan to boost Florida’s economy.

But on Friday, the Republican governor made the decision through his Twitter feed and an announcement from an Orlando barber shop owner — J Henry’s Barber Shop in downtown Orlando.

“We are ready to get back to work and make some money. But getting back to work, we want to be safe,” salon owner J Henry said in the announcement. “Safety is always first.”

Gloves and masks, among other measures, would help stylists, owners and clients be safe, though it wasn’t clear on Friday about all the details and protocols. Other states, such as neighboring Georgia, have already opened salons, with guidance from the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers, according to a state of Georgia news release.

Saturday afternoon, the governor’s office provided an executive order, guidance for safety protocols and a question and answer document.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visits OhSoooJazzy Hair Salon in Orlando; discusses reopening salons in the future. Credit: Screenshot, Florida Channel.

The hair salon issue came to the forefront last Saturday when Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings  reached out to the Florida governor about reopening hair salons. That led to a roundtable discussion on the issue at the OhSoooJazzy Hair Salon in Orlando.

At the time, Mayor Demings said hair salons in his area were ready to reopen its doors. “They convinced me that they were able to open with the right sanitary measures in place,” Demings said at the time.

Demings is the husband of Orlando Congresswoman Val Demings, a Democrat who, in political circles, is considered a possible vice president for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

The Twitter announcement on Friday was not at the the OhSoooJazzy salon where Mayor Demings participated.

Hair salon owners at the meeting last Saturday 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.

Some people may or may not decide to head into a salon during the continuing pandemic.

But 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.

Even DeSantis bemoaned his hair situation last Saturday.

“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 at the time.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.