KSTP & Callan Gray
Updated: March 18, 2020 08:25 PM
Created: March 18, 2020 09:50 AM
UPDATE: (7:42 p.m.)
Gov. Tim Walz signed an Executive Order clarifying businesses subject to closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Order clarifies that the closure order applies to salons, barbershops and other similar establishments.
"As we move quickly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are constantly learning and adjusting to feedback from health experts, business owners, and workers," said Walz. "The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to implement social distancing, and this executive order provides clarification on how we can better practice these community mitigation strategies."
"Our goal is to offer clear guidance to business owners, employees, and the people who utilize these services on how to best protect themselves and those around them," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. "We know that these closures will be challenging to many families, but it is essential that we come together as a community to support each other through this crisis."
The Minnesota Board of Cosmetology said it received guidance on Tuesday that all hair salons, nail salons and "spa-like businesses" should all be closed through March 27 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order on Monday stating that all restaurants, bars and places of "public accommodation" be closed effective Tuesday at 5 p.m. The executive order outlined "spas," but did not specifically mention hair salons or nail salons.
The Board of Cosmetology issued an update dated 9 p.m. Tuesday stating that it had been advised that hair salons, nail salons and spas were part of that executive order.
The board also asked cosmetology schools for notice by Friday on whether they will choose to use alternative plans for instruction. Those plans would need to be submitted by March 30.
"Please do what you can to prioritize the health and safety of students and clients," the board said in a statement. "We are in conversation with the Governor’s Office and other relevant parties about solutions to the challenges that the COVID-19 situation presents."
The Governor’s Office told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the decision was made because beauty professionals work in close proximity to clients.
According to the Board of Cosmetology, they are working together to connect business owners with assistance. There are about 5,300 licensed salons and 33,400 individuals statewide.
Get Gorgeous Salon and Spa is usually a vibrant Selby Avenue business. Owner Ilka Bird told us she’s been able to expand over the 13 years she’s been located there.
Now, Bird worries about how she’ll pay her bills.
“Being a sole proprietor, I don’t know what unemployment will look like,” she said. “I don't know what I'm going to do, I can just hope we can rebound as a community.”
The Board of Cosmetology told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it learned that salons and spas would be included in the executive order at about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday, hours after the 5 p.m. deadline to close businesses.
“I heard about 11 o’clock last night,” Bird said. “I just fell to the floor.”
She called it “devastating” to her employees as well. Bird spent most of Wednesday rescheduling appointments and informing the stylists who work at the salon.
The uncertainty goes beyond this temporary closure, if the economy doesn’t recover.
“We are a luxury service, people will let go of us before anything else,” said Bird.
She’s asking the community to help businesses while they’re closed by pre-paying for services and purchasing gift cards.
Less than five minutes away, Sola Salon Studios was also closed on Wednesday. There are eight locations throughout the Twin Cities, where more than 325 beauty professionals rent space for their studios.
“Our promise was as long as the closure is in place they're not going to pay rent,” said Erin Elgin, Sola Salon Studios co-owner. “We'll keep doing that, we'll tighten things up on our end.”
They are also crediting back rent paid this week, since it wasn’t a complete workweek.
Elgin spoke to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS from the Atlanta airport while on her way back from the Bahamas. She and her husband, who is co-owner, ended their family vacation early because of the closures.
"We had to get our action plan in place right away just to set our studio owners' minds at ease," she said.
They started working with renters on Monday, after the weekend announcement that schools would be closed. They suspended rent for those who closed their spaces voluntarily.
Elgin told KSTP 90% of their renters are female business owners and many are mothers.
“If they can’t work their livelihood is completely gone, just like that,” she said.
Elgin said it’s a substantial cost but they plan to continue the policy through the closure.
“We’re willing to take a major personal hit to help our studio owners provide for the long term,” she said.
The Board of Cosmetology said it is still processing and renewing licenses during the closure. They will not be doing inspections.
It is unclear whether barbershops are part of that executive order as well. The Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners said it was seeking clarification on Walz's mandate.
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