HARTFORD, CT — Some hairstylists felt May 20th was too soon to reopen and Gov. Ned Lamont eventually agreed.

On Monday, Lamont decided not to move forward with allowing hairstylists and barbers to be part of the first phase of Connecticut’s reopening. Instead, they will be allowed to reopen on June 1.

Hair and nail salons and barbershops have been closed in response to the COVID-19 health crisis since March 19. Many felt they shouldn’t be part of the first phase of reopening due to the inability to social distance and the long exposure times stylists have to their clients. Others needed more time to find child care.

In a statement Monday, Lamont said he would align the salon openings with Rhode Island’s to early June.

Odete Dasilva, of owner of Artistex Salon & Spa in Westport, said she’s still pushing for late June.

She said the rush to open up barber shops and hair salons impacts a mostly female industry that would have been forced in some cases to choose between their families and their jobs.

She said if the salons were open on May 20, there are some owners who expected their stylists to report to work

Dasilva said that was an impossible ask because some worried about their own health, while others have children at home and no child care.

Dasilva was helping lead a car caravan protest Monday to ask Lamont to push back the opening to late June.

In an editorial, Dasilva and fellow stylist and co-founder of CT Stylist for Late Stage Openings, Alison Valsamis, said they are not essential and “opening our businesses at this stage is unsafe and dangerous to the public’s health. Premature openings, with loosely written and scientifically inaccurate guidelines, the lack of focus on contact tracing, and the emphasis on reporting and shutting down businesses will certainly lead to the demise of our industry as we know it.”

The delay was not welcome news to everyone.  Maura Petrosino, owner and stylist at Jobella Salon in Branford, said she has spent thousands of dollars to open her salon in two days and she hasn’t gotten a dime of unemployment.

She said she has enough personal protective equipment and cleaning product and is ready to open.

“You can’t change the rules of the game two days before opening,” Petrosino said.

She said the late decision is going to push hair cuts underground “and that’s not safe.”

“I have the right to earn a living,” Petrosino said.

She said people are collecting unemployment and that’s why they don’t want to go back to work.

Asked what would happen if they did open, Lamont said the state will be coming up with regulations over the next few days.

“Don’t open before June 1. Those are the rules,” Lamont said. “We’ll be setting out some enforcement mechanisms in the next few days just to be clear.”

Hair stylists should not reopen ahead of June 1 or go to other locations to do hair cuts, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman said.

If they do they would be in violation of an executive order.

“Look, I apologize because I know some of you were all set to go on May 20,” Lamont said.
New York will be opening up hair salons and barber shops in the second phase of its reopening plan.