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Cheshire hair salon owners protest decision to delay openings

Cheshire hair salon owners protest decision to delay openings

CHESHIRE — Last week marked the beginning of the state’s phase-one reopening, as numerous businesses opened May 20 for the first time since the end of March.

However, certain businesses that thought they would reopen were left closed, and some local owners aren’t happy.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced on May 18 that hair salons would not be able to reopen on May 20, after originally including them in the list of businesses that would be allowed to operate again during phase-one of the state plan. The announcement came, according to Lamont, after he received feedback from some salon owners who felt that the May 20 deadline was too soon for them to reopen.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of feedback from many owners and employees, and at this time I think the best approach is that we hit pause on the reopening of hair salons and barber shops, take a step back, and allow some more time as preparations continue to be made,” he said on May 18. 

The decision, which came only two days before many salons were set to reopen, has now left them scrambling to figure out what to do next. 

“I feel like what Lamont did was just so disrespectful to our industry,” said Patty Brokaw of Cappola-Brokaw Art of Hair on Elm Street. “It’s a big slap in the face to those of us who are ready and took the time to make all the necessary changes so that it is safe to operate.”

The announcement took many local salons by surprise. In an effort to support the local businesses, the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying they “are concerned about the recovery of our economy and the health and well being of our community during this unprecedented time.”

“On Tuesday morning, I had an all-staff meeting with my stylists so we could all make sure we were on the same page in terms of protocols and training,” Brokaw explained. “And then, minutes later, (Lamont) made the announcement.”

For Brokaw and others, the frustration is with Lamont’s change of mind. 

“It would have been one thing if he said that the salons that felt as if they were ready to open, could,” Brokaw said. “But he is penalizing us who are ready and willing to be open just because a few salons said they weren’t ready. We spent all this money to have the appropriate equipment and we still can’t open.”

The equipment Brokaw is referring to is the personal protective equipment, or PPE, that the Chesprocott Health District and the state government required in order for salons to reopen. Brokaw and other salons have had to purchase boxes of paper masks, Plexiglas dividers, visors, and other PPE to operate. 

“I had to spend over $150 for just two boxes of face masks,” said Cindy Raymond, who owns and operates 129 On Main Street Salon & Spa. “It’s so aggravating that he did this. It just shows he clearly doesn’t have respect for our industry.”

All salons are now faced with the daunting task of rescheduling their clients for appointments sometime in June, although many are wary about that date as well. 

Raymond said she plans on opening Monday regardless of the state’s restrictions. 

“If he [Lamont] pushes the date back any more, we’re just going to open,” said Raymond. “It’s all politics at this point. You are telling me a dentist can open but we can’t? It’s crazy.”

“I’m probably working more than I ever have, and we are not even open for business,” added Brokaw.