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COVID-19 Pandemic Makes A Hairy Situation

By Charlotte Smith

North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners’ website explains, “cosmetic art shops are still closed through at least May 22, 2020” due to restrictions found in the NC Governor’s Executive Order 138. Hairstylists and barbers across the area are reporting financial struggles since being out of work. 

Some Bladen County elderly residents who once had their hair washed and styled weekly have not received personal care services in over two months. On the other hand, COVID-19 hits the senior population harder than others, according to officials. The Bladen County Health Department announced Monday there were 73 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths in the county. Although the local health department has not confirmed the age of the people affected in the area, the two COVID-19 related deaths were elderly citizens. 

As of yesterday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services announced that NC has 19,023 COVID-19 cases with 661 related deaths. 

Honorable North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

The North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners is waiting on the Governor’s decision to move into Phase II, which will allow salons and barbers to open. The NC Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners site states, “The Board has reached out to the Governor’s office and shared our infection control regulations. When the Governor releases shop reopening guidelines to the Board, we will immediately release information to licensees. The decision to reopen businesses rests with the Governor, not with the Board or Board staff but please continue to contact us, we are glad to help answer questions.”

Bladen County Board of County Commissioners Chairperson, Ray Britt

BladenOnline.com reached out to local officials for their take on the situation. Bladen County Board of Commissioner Chairperson Ray Britt stated today, “I can’t speak for other commissioners, but I would support local businesses reopening.” 

He said, “In my personal opinion, we have to work hard in being preventative, but we have to reopen, or we will continue to slide down a hole we can’t climb out of.”

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners could not override the NC Governor’s Executive Order even if all nine commissioners voted to lift the restrictions on local beauticians. If the Governor does not lift the Phase I restrictions, it will take a judge’s ruling to lift restrictions.

Some North Carolina beauticians, barbers, and cosmetologists had Attorney S.C. Kitchen send Gov. Cooper a letter on May 13, stating, “People have the inalienable right to earn a living. Neither you nor the State have the right to preclude citizens using their own means from pursuing their chosen vocation. The preservation of this right is the principal reason for the Constitution itself. By ordering the closure, by executive fiat, of the Beauty Salons in North Carolina, you have violated the essence of the Constitution.”

The letter written by Kitchen continues, “If the restriction on operating Beauty Salons is not lifted by Monday, May 18, 2020, at noon, it is our intention to file an action to compel compliance with the General Statutes and the Constitutional provision.”

NC House Rep. Keith Kidwell’s office stated the action to compel compliance with the General Statutes and the Constitutional provision on behalf of the business owners is expected to be filed in court today or tomorrow. 

Masks donated by a local church to help hair stylists and barbers.

Some local salon owners are not waiting on the officials to explain how to prepare to reopen. Some beauty shop owners are busy cleaning, purchasing UV light systems, and gathering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The business owners are receiving assistance from the community as well. At least one local church made masks and have donated them to local hairstylists to use when they are allowed to reopen. 

Shop owners and citizens alike have asked if local law enforcement would be enforcing the restrictions.

Bladen County Sheriff, Jim McVicker

Bladen County Sheriff, Jim McVicker, said, “We want to do just like we’ve always done. We will investigate any complaints and take the appropriate actions.”

He added, “We will seek compliance. Citations will be the last resort.”

Town of Elizabethtown Chief of Police, Tony Parrish, said, “I would ask the barbershops and hairstylists’ governing Board how they are enforcing the Executive Order.”

Elizabethtown Police Chief Tony Parrish

“We will have to wait and see,” Chief Parrish added. 

BladenOnline.com asked the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners’ Office how they are enforcing the restrictions and if any NC licenses have been revoked due to professionals breaking the Executive Orders.

Lynda Elliott, Executive Director, NC Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners responded to the questions saying, “The board does not enforce the Governor’s Executive orders, the local law enforcement and county officials would enforce his requirements.”

Gov. Cooper is expected to make a statement this week about entering Phase II, which would lift some restrictions on personal care businesses. BladenOnline.com will publish more information as soon as it is made available. 

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