Updated: May 2, 2020
Are you finding mixed messages about exactly what the Reopen PA plan means for barber and salon owners? Even if you followed every press conference and every update to the commonwealth's website, the information was two things: inconsistent and unclear.
Two weeks ago Governor Tom Wolf announced that he would begin reopening PA on May 8th. The "plan" which was really just an idea at that point included a three-phase process: Red, Yellow, and Green.
The entire state was in the Red phase until May 8th. The red phase in a nutshell meant that everyone was under a "shelter-at-home" order. Residents should stop visiting friends and family, and only leave home for necessary provisions. All non-essential businesses were close their physical locations. Revisions were added along the way such as an order for all Pennsylvanian's to wear a mask in public.
The Yellow phase was to allow some businesses to open under certain limitations. Only a few types of businesses were listed, such as childcare facilities and construction projects, but there was never any mention of barbershops and salons.
Spoiler alert: Barbershops and Salons did not make the cut for the Yellow phase. Here is a screenshot from the official source. Click the link for details on each phase.
Today, Wolf went live and announced that 24 counties would move into Yellow as planned on May 8th. I got my hopes up when he said that some in person establishments would be able to open, but he again did not specify barbershops and salons. Then he said toward the end of his speech that "human to human" contact carried too much of a risk at this time.
I had to dig, but I found a list on the governor's website.
The following 24 counties are moving into Yellow on May 8th. If your county is on this list, then you could be moving to green in as few as a couple of weeks. If your county is not on this list, then you are likely looking at another month.
How should we feel about this? I can't tell you how to feel, but I can tell you that I am torn. On the one hand, there is my desire to work, earn income, run my business, socialize, and serve my clients. On the other hand... our industry is not safe when it comes to something so contagious. I'm concerned about myself and my children, but even if my kids and I catch it and carry it without symptoms, I'm concerned about my community.
Consider this scenario: I cut around 50 clients/week. If my first client Tuesday morning has it and I catch it, then I can potentially give it to 50 new carriers. Even if they don't get sick, they could each infect 10 people. That's 500 new cases. If they infect 10 people, that is 5,000. If only .5% of those people die, then that is 25 deaths. When I think about it like that, then I don't feel like I am making such a great sacrifice for nothing.
Also, try to be generous in your thoughts about Gov Wolf and the commonwealth. Could you imagine being a leader at this time and responsible for making these types of decisions right now? There is no blueprint for a pandemic.
If you are panicking, try to remember that you are not alone in this struggle. Your landlord can't kick you out of your home. There are food banks. There are grants, loans, unemployment benefits, medicaid, food stamps, etc.
If you are in need of resources and you don't know where to look outside of a google search, try one of the following:
1. Reach out to me or one of your fellow Pennsylvania barbers/stylists. I'm Dani Waters on facebook and @sunnydthebarber on instagram. I post video updates.
2. Post on social media.
3. Attend your local church, even if you aren't religious, and ASK FOR HELP.
4. Check out the Pro Beauty website's resource page. It has information on everything from grants to articles on how to negotiate your shop's lease during this crisis.
5. If you're like me and you want to try to predict what is happening next, go to the PA Dept of Health website and look at your county data. It gets updated daily around noon. Write it down daily and track it. Your county needs to have fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people in a two week period to move to the next phase.
Even if you have always struggled and you have always suffered alone, this is the one time where you don't have to do that.
In the video below, I talk about Dauphin county specifically, and I break down the criteria for a county to move to Yellow.
Good luck, guys. It's tough out there, but if I know one thing about folks in the hair industry, it is that we are a tough-ass-hustling bunch. We are not alone. We got this.