A major staple in the Rochester community now sits idle because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve been shut down for about 2 weeks, this time,” said Terence Jones, Owner and Barber at Loves Barber Shop in Rochester, said his shop has been closed for about two weeks now after parts of Monroe County entered orange zone designation.
Jones is just one of over 1,000 people signing a petition started by the United Professional Barbers and Cosmetologists Association asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reopen salons and barbershops.
“The thing about the petition is that if you want to be heard, you’ve got to put it on paper, they don’t know what’s really going on because the governor, his money is straight, he’s on salary, his money is going to come in,” said Jones.
Jones says for barbers in Monroe County’s orange zone, that flow of money has stopped for now.
“I’ve been cutting since I was 12-years-old, and I built this place and you put all of your blood, sweat, tears, [and] your money, everything that you have: late nights, sleepless nights, putting it together,” Jones said. “And then you have right where you want it, and it feels like it’s just been taken away.”Many barbers feel the same way and are puzzled after following what they call strict COVID-19 safety guidelines with few cases attributed to spread at barbershops.
“No one has shown me any data of how this makes sense, and why only certain parts of the industry in certain areas have been shut down, but in other areas they still remain open,” said Willie Lightfoot, president of the United Professional Barbers and Cosmetologists Association.
Lightfoot says the orange zone shutdown disproportionately affects women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the city. He believes if there’s a shutdown of the industry, there should be a blanket shutdown all over the county, or only close businesses associated with COVID-19 cases.
“Those 2 weeks of income that were lost, some people are 2 weeks away from losing their business right now, some people are 2 weeks away from losing their home, losing their car, etc.” said Lightfoot.
As barbers bide their time, Jones has this message to the governor about the petition to reopen:
“Get it done, you know, I’m talking about immediately because every day that we’re closed, it’s a day closer to… whew, I don’t even want to say the word man, but poverty is not far.”