Until personal-care salons are allowed to reopen, we'll be seeing some manicures, pedicures, massages, and haircuts happening on the streets of San Francisco. Under state orders issued Monday, in watch-list counties, these activities are only allowed outdoors. And while that's fine and well for more temperate, inland parts of the state where parking lots are the norm, it's not going to be feasible for a lot of salons in SF's less quiet neighborhoods.
"The state of our streets and cities, I mean not only just with COVID but even in a regular normal situation I wouldn’t even set up anything outside,” says salon owner Connie McGrath in a segment that aired last night on KRON4. "Who wants to sit among the homeless, the drug addicts and the trash?" she says.
The Mercury News spoke to some South Bay salon owners earlier in the week who acknowledged that it's not exactly ideal to be cutting hair outside — with the wind blowing bits of hair into the streets, etc. But San Francisco streets, especially downtown and anywhere near Market Street, are going to pose special challenges that don't just stop with the weather.
McGrath's Veer & Wander salon sits on Brady Street, a small alley on the opposite side of Market Street from Hayes Valley near Van Ness and Civic Center. And for her, reopening only to have her clients sitting outdoors in a non-residential neighborhood where homeless encampments are not uncommon doesn't make a lot of sense.
And she suggests that the varying rules across county lines — in San Mateo County, for instance, salons have reopened — means that clients have other options nearby.
"I just think that we have to face the facts that it’s all or nothing and we need to open with these strict guidelines that we already know need to take place," she tells KRON4.
It's a bit of a different story in Walnut Creek, where ABC 7 visited a salon which has created a nice outdoor setup, with salon chairs under tents and a curtain covering a concrete wall.
Salon owner Ashley Flowers tells the station that the process of setting it all up and breaking it down every day is stressful and laborious, but they're making it work for now just to start making an income again.
KCBS reported this week that some stylists in San Francisco are waiting out the current health orders by just doing clandestine house-calls instead. They are likely making a decent income this way, too, charging more for house-calls and doing multiple cuts at each household because everyone is at home.