Articles > Coronavirus > Arrests, Fines and License Suspensions: What Hairdressers Face If They Open Against State Rules
Last updated: May 22, 2020

Arrests, Fines and License Suspensions: What Hairdressers Face If They Open Against State Rules

michigan barber karl manke
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Karl Manke, the Michigan barber who reopened before the state mandated closure was lifted. His business and professional licenses were suspended. IGTV via @3pointpod

Hairdressers Are Speaking Out Against Mandated Closures

For many in the professional beauty industry, state-mandated business closures have led to salon owners closing their doors for good. And while federal funds and grants and new state unemployment compensation rules have helped some in the industry, others are having to make tough decisions about their livelihoods. Salon and barbershop owners across the country are serving as vocal proponents of reopening their businesses despite government orders to stay closed. Regardless of where you personally stand on this topic, BTC thinks it’s important to bring you this news so you know what’s going on across the country.


Editor’s Note: The local, county and state guidelines that dictate business operation legality in various parts of the country are complex. Likewise, cosmetology state board regulations may differ widely by state. Please check your own local and state laws and your own state board if you have any questions on what is going on in your own area.


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Is Your Salon Open? Click Here To Download Printable Signs For Your Space!


Dallas Salon Owner Jailed 

Dallas, Texas salon owner Shelley Luther has become the face of the pro-opening movement after opening her Salon a la Mode on April 24, despite a Dallas County stay-at-home order issued March 22. Shelley was sentenced to 7 days in jail and ordered to pay a fine of $500 for every day her salon was open illegally.


“My hairstylists were telling me, look, I’m about to go to people’s houses to do hair because I just don’t have any money,’” Shelley said on The View. “I decided to open because it’s not safe for them to be going to people’s houses, for them or their clients, and I just felt like if I opened, I could create a sterile environment and make it at least a lot safer…I just didn’t want to be the reason they weren’t making any money.”


“I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids,” Shelley said in court, according to the Washington Post. “So, sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision, but I am not going to shut down the salon.”

The Texas Supreme Court ordered Shelley’s release a day after she was taken into custody, and since then, she’s been a vocal leader for business owners who want to reopen despite executive orders. Shelley also visited two other Texas beauty pros who were arrested with violating the state’s emergency management plan: Ana Isabel Castro Garcia and Stephanie Mata. The two Laredo, Texas residents were arrested on April 15 for providing beauty services from their homes. On May 8, the state’s District Attorney said he would not prosecute the cases of either woman.


Salons and barbershops in Texas were allowed to reopen with restrictions on May 8. Texas has reported about 49,000 total COVID-19 cases and just under 1,500 deaths as of May 19, according to CNN.


Your State-By-State Guide To Salons Reopening: Click Here!


Longtime Michigan Barber’s License Suspended

77-year-old Karl Manke has been cutting hair in Owosso, Mich. for almost 60 years, according to The New York Times. The barber reopened his shop on May 4 despite Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders, and lost his business and professional licenses.


“I’m not closing up; I’m not caving in to this,” he told The New York Times. “I’m not a rabble-rouser and I’m not a scofflaw. I’m a small-town barber. I just want to make my living.”


Shelley traveled to Michigan to support Karl at a May 18 rally urging Gov. Whitmer to allow businesses to reopen. As of now, the state’s stay-at-home order is in place until May 28. Michigan has nearly 52,000 reported COVID-19 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths as of May 19, according to CNN.

Two More Michigan Shop Owners Reopen

Sarah Huff, owner of Ardor + Grit salon in Holland, Mich., opened on May 15. “I do have bills to pay. I have a mortgage, the same thing as everybody else,” she told MLive News.


Sarah said if her business had to remain closed into July, she would likely have to close her doors permanently. “I want to do things legally. I’m trying to do this in the smartest way, but also to get my point across that they need to open up the economy because it’s more than just a haircut,” she said.


In Cadillac, Mich., Tina Godfrey opened her barbershop Abbie’s First Cut on May 12. “If I stay closed, my little business is going to be gone, and everything I’ve worked for over the last 30 years is gone,” Tina told Up North Live.

Oregon Salon Owner Fined $14,000

A Salem, Ore. salon owner reopened her business, Glamour Salon, on May 5 and was fined $14,000 by OSHA for defying Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order requiring businesses to remain closed. The salon owner, Lindsey Graham, and her husband own six businesses, all of which have been closed because of COVID-19.


None of the 23 people who work at Lindsey’s salon have received unemployment checks, according to the Register-Guard. Her LLC has received $30,000 in federal relief funds, which cannot be used for payroll because the stylists at the salon are independent contractors. “At this point, I’m deciding that it’s more important for me to feed my family and pay the bills that are going to keep our home and our family alive than take the risk to remain being shut down for an undisclosed amount of time,” Lindsey told KPTV.


Oregon has just under 4,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and 138 deaths, according to CNN as of May 19. Salons and barbershops in the state were able to open under strict guidelines on May 15.



What It’s Like To Work In A Salon Amid A Pandemic: Click Here To Read!


Northern California Shop Reopens

A shop owner in the Sacramento Valley has reopened recently despite Gov. Gavin Newsom saying that salons are “months away” from reopening. Vacaville, Calif. Hairendipity Salon owner Lia Rivera reopened in late April, and received more than 100 phone calls in 12 hours for appointments after announcing her plan to reopen, she told KPIX 5.


To other salons that are also financially suffering: “I’m doing this for you,” Lia said. She knows she will likely face at least a $1,000 fine, but she is going to open anyway. “I sure the hell hope that this sparks some sort of change.” In a letter on her salon website, Lia said she applied for every assistance option available and has not received any money, or even acknowledgement of her applications. 

“With no plans in place to safely restart our economy I am done hiding from this in exchange for guaranteeing my business’s closure. I would like to let the community know, and our government know the measures we are taking to open safely and effectively control the spread. I would like to encourage other salons in our area to do the same. Many already are, in homes and backyards where any control over safety and sanitation is out the window. The CA State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology’s regular safety and sanitation standards are far beyond what the CDC is recommending today,” the letter said.


“I refuse to look my 3 sons ages 1, 3, and 6 in the eyes and tell them Mommy’s business is closed. The business I opened while pregnant. The business I kept afloat when I gave birth in my first year open. The business that survived my SELF EMPLOYED aka incomeless maternity leave with 2 young employees holding down the fort. The business that nearly destroyed my friendships, marriage, family due to my determination to keep pushing through all of those challenges. 2 years after opening I am FINALLY at a place of descent. With a full staff now of 5 employees and 10 Independent Contractors 2020 was supposed to be our year. I refuse to be taken out over something I can’t control. Not after all the hurdles I’ve conquered in the last 2 years,” the letter stated.


California has a reported 81,904 COVID-19 cases and 3,296 deaths, according to CNN as of May 19. 


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