Local barbershop owner starts petition to consider barbers, cosmetologists essential workers

FRESNO, Calif/ (KFSN) -- Spiffing up his shop is all that's happening at Great American Barbershop. The chairs are empty and Tye Featherstone is not keeping anyone handsome for now, but not by choice.

"Even for cities that have deemed barbering and cosmetology essential, the Governor sent out a threatening letter saying that he's going to take away our licenses if we're found to be putting the public at risk," he said.

Featherstone initially took the shelter in place order in stride. But now, he feels like the rules are changing weekly and barbershops are getting pushed to the back of the reopening list.

"I went to school to get a license to barber, which meant that I would make sure that I did not spread and infect other people and I'd manage the disease and infection control," he said.

Featherstone has submitted a safety plan but doesn't feel it will change his chances of reopening any sooner.

So far, he's figured out a way to eliminate customers from waiting in the shop before their haircuts and is suspending services that aren't absolutely necessary, like shampoos, beard trims and shaves.

The steps barbers take in between clients is also changing.

"They disinfect their chairs with the Clomid, get that done and go wash their hands, and they'll get ready for the next client," Featherstone said.

Barber chairs will be separated more than 6 feet apart. Cash will not be accepted; only credit and debit cards to eliminate hand to hand transactions.

Both barbers and customers will be answering health-related questions before they are allowed inside. Everyone who enters must wear a mask.

The state classifies barbershops as Higher Risk Workplaces that won't open until Phase 3. On Monday, the governor said counties could start moving into that phase in the next few weeks.

Featherstone isn't the only one getting impatient. A desperate Clovis mom drove around town Monday looking for anyone to cut her son's hair.

"I haven't found anybody that's doing haircuts," he said. "He's so desperate, he's asking me to cut his hair by his ears because it's impacting him."

A petition Featherstone started last week has received about four thousand signatures. It urges the Governor to consider barbers and cosmetologists essential and first responders when it comes to detecting things like skin cancer.

On Monday, Governor Newsom said that barbers would be allowed to open in the next few weeks. Featherstone says he is waiting for a definite date before he calls his employees back to work.
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