Hair, nail salons forced to close for coronavirus crisis
Early spring is typically the busy season for hairdressers and nail technicians at Kutting Kraze, a Bellmore hair salon. Proms. Weddings. Communions. Bar and bat mitzvahs. The shop should be packed every day with customers.
But on Saturday, Kutting Kraze, a fixture in the South Shore community for 30 years, will be forced to close, along with hair and nail salons and barbershops across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The order, issued Friday by the governors of the four East Coast states, is expected to devastate the wide-ranging personal care services industry, along with its thousands of small business employees.
"It's going to crush us," said Claudette Valenti, who co-owns Kutting Kraze with Stephanie Sheeran. "I don't know how we are going to get back. We are going to fight through it and do the best we can but I don't know how we are going to pay our rent, our bills, our taxes and our payroll."
The pair, who together have 12 full- and part-time employees, have dipped into their savings and not taken a salary in weeks to keep the business afloat.
Valenti, whose husband owns Piccolo Ristorante, a Bellmore eatery that was forced to close for all but takeout orders, thinks she can last about six weeks before she's forced to shutter the business permanently.
"If it lasts to the summer there's no way," she said.
The statewide order, which goes into effect at 8 p.m. Saturday, also impacts tattoo and piercing parlors and hair removal services — industries that require close personal contact with customers.
"These temporary closures are not going to be easy, but they are necessary to protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers and all Americans," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Erica Kwarta has worked as a hairdresser at Hair Designers in East Meadow for 34 years. She worries most for her 10 co-workers, along with the suppliers who provide salons with necessary hair care products.
"It's going to be devastating," said Kwarta, 50, of East Meadow. "Many of them have no other source of income."
Some hairdressers said they could provide an occasional haircut in their basement or drive to a client's home. But home visits come with a degree of risk during a fast-moving pandemic, they say, and would defeat the purpose of social distancing.
Fran Klapow, 58, a hairdresser at Salon Montáage in Oceanside, reluctantly agrees that closing the salon is the right decision. Many of her clients are seniors who, experts say, are the most vulnerable if they contract COVID-19.
"I am concerned for the customers who are in high-risk situations that are not making the right choices," Klapow said. "Our salon is a family. We love each other. Our clients see us more than their own family. I am concerned for all but I think we are all taking this seriously."
Joe Vargas, 41, owner of Evolution Barber Shop, which has operated in Patchogue for 15 years, understands the need to close. But he worries about his six employees who won't see a paycheck until his shop reopens.
"Everyone here has families. They have wives and children," said Vargas of Holbrook. "This came out of nowhere and we were not prepared for it. Most of us don't have savings that will last more than two or three weeks."