Berger presses to re-open barbershops; NC’s health secretary asks for patience

Senate President Phil Berger says it’s time to grant hair salons and barbershops the flexibility to re-open.

In a statement released by Berger’s office Wednesday , the Senate leader noted that 25 states have re-opened their salons and barbershops in some capacity, and this would help the small business owners.

“It’s time to follow the lead of the majority of states in our region and the country. Hair salon owners and employees can’t work and many of them still can’t get unemployment assistance from the Cooper Administration. Gov. Cooper needs to provide counties with the flexibility to reopen hair salons and barber shops if they choose.”

Health and Human Service Secretary Mandy Cohen told reporters at her daily briefing that she understands the desire to have one’s hair cut, but the state is taking a measured approach during the first phase of re-opening.

“We know this virus is transmitted more when someone is in close proximity over a long period of time, and by nature of a salon or a barbershop, you are sitting down for a longer period of time and folks are close together,” explained Cohen.

Cohen says she is hopeful those activities will return under Phase 2 of the governor’s plan in less than a couple of weeks. 

She noted the staggered approach to re-opening businesses is intended to minimize risk, and prevent the state from being overwhelmed by new cases of the coronavirus as people begin to leave their homes and return to their routines.

“We still see a lot of virus here. And we want to be sure we don’t see a surge of cases.”

North Carolina could move to phase two as early as May 22, according to the governor’s office.

Senator Berger, who sought to give counties the power over the opening barbershops and salons, did not mention other businesses in his statement such as gyms, tattoo parlors, or movie theaters, which also face restrictions because of the close contact and increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

Secretary Cohen’s advice for now:

“Hold on a bit longer. Everyone wants a haircut, including me.”

As of Wednesday, North Carolina had recorded almost 600 deaths from COVID-19 and 521 hospitalizations caused by the virus.

A day earlier, the nation’s top health officials warned about the potential for new outbreaks of coronavirus if states re-open too quickly.

Click below to hear the state’s top health official explain why hair salons and barbershops were not opened immediately under phase one.


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