NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Some beauty salon and barber shop owners are pleading with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be allowed to reopen.

In the Bronx, one single block of the Grand Concourse, has eight barber shops and beauty salons closed by the order of Cuomo on March 21 as non-essential.

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“You’re having already some salons, $30,000, $40,000 of debt,” said Floribel Thomas of the Salon Operators Association.

These owners are mostly immigrants, all losing money, and are convinced political leaders don’t understand the role they play for their community or their clients.

“I don’t think they understand the importance of giving emotional support by beautifying our clients. And that’s what we do to our clients. Nobody’s understanding that,” said salon operator Nieves Okoronkwo.


Thursday they begged the governor and mayor for help.

“They’re saying we can work with the city and the state, address the preventive measures so that we can reopen our business,” said City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.

“We’re more than willing to do the work but they have to help us,” Thomas said.

They’d like clear cut guidelines on social distancing and sanitation protocols and permission to reopen.

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Demands like these are being made across the country, where some salons and barber shops are reopening in defiance of orders, reported CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

Michigan has revoked the license of a barber, while in California, hair salon owner Juan Desmarais is open in defiance of a cease and desist order.

“It’s been 45 days, seems like a power grab based on fear,” Desmarais said.

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New York operators say they understand the desperation that leads to civil disobedience.

“Your bills are accumulating! You don’t even know how you’re gonna pay your phone bill or your rent,” Thomas said.

The industry is looking for an end to the 55-day lockdown.

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Cuomo has said he views the salon business as high risk, because it requires close proximity with the client. He wants these businesses in a later phase of reopening plans.