Businesses shut their doors to help stop COVID-19 spread

Governor's 'stay at home' order officially takes effect

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - For several weeks, doors to beauty shops and nail salons will be closed. Right now, they’re not considered essential to citizens’ daily well being, so Governor John Bel Edwards ordered them to close up shop while healthcare workers get the outbreak under control.

Sunday afternoon (March 22) Gov. Edwards enacted a mandatory stay-at-home order unless you’re working or going to an essential business. Some of the businesses considered essential include restaurants, grocery stores, and pharmacies. A full list can be found here.

“I’ve been doing hair for 22 years and this is totally unprecedented times,” said Tonja McMillan, co-owner of Happy Hair Salon and Boutique.

Twenty-four hours is all it took for the owners of Happy Hair on Drusilla Lane to realize that extra cleaning measures just weren’t enough to fight the spread.

“Just our staff alone is almost ten people,” McMillan said.

During the press conference Sunday, Gov. Edwards encouraged people to stay home unless absolutely necessary, and to keep at least six feet of distance between each other if they do.

McMillan says the chairs in the waiting area don’t sit six feet apart and once you add up the clients and the staff in the building, it was over the limit.

“It was like okay, this is too much," she said.

McMillan and her business partner, Jacqueline Richardson, made the tough decision to close up shop almost a week before the governor’s office said they had to. She says the price of family far outweighed the business.

“Most of the professionals are women, so when you close the schools too and the kids are out of school and mommy has got to go to work, that makes it very difficult,” McMillan added.

The entire beauty industry is feeling the impact of this sudden shutdown. It’s especially hard for folks at Venetian Nail Spa on Perkins Rowe.

“Sadly, tomorrow is our one-year anniversary and we can’t celebrate it,” Vi Tran said. Tran is an esthetician at the spa.

This shutdown is not the best way anyone would want to commemorate such a big moment, but spas are a very hands-on business. Keeping six feet between customers would be hard. Venetian Nail Spa temporarily closed to help stop the spread on March 19.

“We love to beautify ourselves, but right now is the time to give our skin a break, give our nails a break, and just stay home,” Tran added.

If closing down wasn’t enough, most in the hair and nail industry are considered independent contractors, making them ineligible for unemployment benefits.

“It didn’t apply for 1099 employees, so it’s kind of heartbreaking because we can’t do anything except try to fill out any help that we will apply to us,” Tran added.

Tran says some people in the beauty industry have been forced to find a second job as supplemental income.

It’s a tough time for working folks trying to adapt to this temporary new normal, but frankly speaking, the hair and nail experts say beauty can wait.

“Don’t worry about it,” McMillan said. “At this point in our lives, it’s more important that we are alive and that we are protecting the lives of our loved ones, children, and ourselves. That’s what’s most important.”

Gov. Edwards also said a statewide curfew has not been issued yet. However, parish officials have the authority to issue a curfew if they see fit.

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