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California allows reopening of some barbershops, hair salons

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SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday cleared barbershops and hair salons to reopen in the majority of counties, the latest move in his rapid relaxation of restrictions put in place more than two months ago in the battle against the coronavirus.

“We're making progress, we’re moving forward, we’re not looking back — but we are walking into the unknown,” Newsom said during a news conference.

As with other reopenings, the state issued guidelines for barbershops and salons to follow, requiring customers and workers to wear face coverings during hair-cutting and other close-contact services.

In recent weeks, Newsom has dramatically relaxed restrictions in counties that can meet certain requirements on testing and tracing, hospitalization rates and overall cases of the virus.

Last week he outlined criteria that has now allowed 47 of the state's 58 counties, including Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties, to open restaurants for dining in and some other services. On Monday, he said houses of worship could reopen with limits. The latest move follows a Memorial Day weekend in which many Californians were out and about, enjoying newly reopened restaurants, beaches and hiking trails.

Newsom said he felt confident moving forward because the state is testing more than 60,000 people a day, procured massive amounts of protective equipment for workers and plans to deploy 5% of the state's workforce as contact tracers who can track the spread of the virus from infected people. He said the state anticipates an increase in the number of cases.

“That's inevitable, but that's not in and of itself an alarm bell,” he said.

Los Angeles County and the six other San Francisco Bay Area counties are not among the counties moving forward quickly with relaxed orders. Los Angeles opened a new testing site at the stadium where the Dodgers play, with a capacity to test about 6,000 people a day.

The new rules for hair salons don't extend to all beauty services. Nail salons still aren't cleared to open, and hair salons shouldn't perform services such as eyebrow waxing or facials that require a worker to touch a customers face.

The state’s guidelines call for customers to be screened for virus symptoms and for employees and patrons to use face coverings during hair cuts and other services. The state suggests workers use goggles or face shields as further precaution.

Hair salons and barbershops will also need to get rid of magazines and offerings such as water and coffee for customers. Reception areas must have hand sanitizer and enough space for social distancing. Workstations and stools are to be disinfected between each customer.

Fred Jones, legal counsel for Professional Beauty Federation of California, said it made no sense to exclude nail salons from reopening when barbershops and hair salons are gaining approval. He said the state’s license for operating a hair, skin or nail salon establishment come in one packaged license.

“There’s vagueness in the very act of saying hair salons and barbershops can reopen without also including skin and nail. So what happens if you own a shop that does all three areas?” Jones said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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Associated Press writers John Antczak in Los Angeles and Cuneyt Dil in Sacramento contributed.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

Track cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world here.

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