Salons and barbershops, as well as fitness facilities and gyms, are getting a new lease on life in the South Bay starting this week.

Just a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the businesses shut down due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, on Monday he waived statewide licensing regulations. Now, barbershops, nail salons and massage parlors can take their services outside as long as they follow public health guidelines.

That's good news for salon owners like Christina Maniaci in Redondo Beach. Her hair care business in South Redondo Beach's Riviera Village is already up and running outside.

Maniaci said she is fortunate she has a secured patio connected to Salon Touche. So, it was easy to set up five stations outside.

The small business owner said she follows the same guidelines for COVID-19 for outside as she did for inside. Staffers and clients are required to wear masks and social distance. And, because of that, said Maniaci, she cannot allow all stylists to work every day, so schedules are staggered. Also, she said, clients must have an appointment. No walk-ins are allowed.

The salon's staff takes clients' temperatures before allowing anyone inside their gate and into the patio area where they are required to provide shade, said Maniaci.

New guidelines set by the Department of Consumer Affairs on Monday does not allow chemical hair services outdoors including permanent waving, relaxing, bleaching, tinting, coloring, dyeing and straightening, shampooing and electrolysis. This is due to “inability to ensure adequate drainage and proper waste disposal."

That means, for salons, clients wash their hair at home and come to the salon with wet hair, said Maniaci. But that's a small price to pay after having to close her salon since March.

The governor’s order last week immediately sparked protests and backlash from thousands of salon owners across the state, many of which had just begun serving clients when counties imposed a lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement about outdoor operations comes just one week after Newsom signed an order that forced a number of businesses — including salons and barbershops — to cease indoor operations if their counties are on a coronavirus “watchlist.”  As of Monday, 33 counties were on the watchlist, including all of those in Los Angeles County. 

The new guidelines cover hairdressing, styling and other personal care services such as massages, facials and manicures. Tattoos and piercings still aren’t allowed inside or out because of stringent hygiene requirements.

Under the new guidelines, personal care businesses can provide their services under an outdoor tent, canopy or other kinds of sun shelters as long as no more than one side is closed to allow for “sufficient outdoor air movement.” Both the employees and clients must wear masks, stations must still be spaced at least six feet apart and frequent disinfecting must take place.

In nearby Hermosa Beach, in response to the state shutdown and then subsequent outdoor guidelines, city officials issued an emergency order July 17 to allow fitness facilities and gyms to operate outside.

“Keeping our local businesses operating safely and in compliance with these Public Health Orders is critical to the health of our community and our economy,” said Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal in a statement.

That order allowed yoga studio co-owner Pete Niva to hold classes outside on the beach, as Hermosa Beach owns the nearly two miles of beach.

Niva said he is overjoyed he can hold classes just steps away from his business SoHo Yoga, after the frustration of flip flopping state and county guidelines. He said without the beach “I don’t think we’d make it through.”

“I think a lot of businesses are in that same exact position,” Niva said. “You see the restaurants starting to transition outside. They need to do that to survive.”

A silver lining during the coronavirus upheaval, said Niva, who opened his studio seven years ago, is finding creative ways to keep businesses afloat.

“People depend on these spaces to get out to have some sort of community. People want to see each other, they want to be around each other,” Niva said.

Niva added he understands the city has dealt with a “million moving parts.”

“But the sooner they can get people outdoors and in designated spaces—unused parking lots and parking spaces—the better for the town,” Niva said.

Other South Bay cities have yet to see businesses other than dining and retail to operate outside.

Carson and Torrance will follow the state lead and allow those businesses to operate outdoors, officials in both cities said.

The Torrance City Council is expected to discuss business procedures for allowing nail salons and similar business to operate outdoors at Tuesday's meeting.
Neither city has any of those types of business currently operating.
It was the same in Manhattan Beach. One salon—Vogue Skin & Nails & Spa—said they were moving everything outside and hoped to open by this weekend.

Though Maniaci, the salon owner, is grateful she can offer services again during the pandemic, she said not being able to see clients indoors will probably impact her economically.

“I'm having a really hard time,” Maniaci said. “I think I may be good for about two more months. If it goes on longer than that, I might have to close my doors, and I don't want to have to do that.”

—Maggie Angst with Bay Area News Group and reporter Nick Green contributed.

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