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San Diego hair stylists seek guidance from key officials

Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 19:24:37-04

SAN DIEGO — The people who help San Diegans look their best say they are feeling cast aside amid Coronavirus restrictions.

Most hair stylists are still not getting unemployment benefits because they are independent contractors. Instead, they are waiting for the state to create an online system that would allow them to tap into the federal stimulus jobless benefits that they are eligible for.

And, while retailers and restaurants figure out ways to cope with social distancing, hair stylists cannot do their jobs without being up close.

"We have to be right here, we can't be six feet away," said Kimberly Creekmore, a stylist who owns Cultivate in La Mesa. "We can't load your things into the car, we can't sell you our services online."

Creekmore also runs the Facebook group, Salon Professionals of San Diego, at 2,000 members strong. Her group has penned a letter to key state and local officials sharing ideas about how they can safely return to work once the shutdown is over.

Those include wearing personal protective gear, spreading out stations, and limiting waiting room access.

"We have been frustrated by the trickle of information or in some cases the total lack of information handed down to us," the letter says. "Sometimes feeling that we are completely overlooked. We are the self-employed, small business owners, who work paycheck to paycheck to survive. We beg you to see us offer us a path forward."

Creekmore says she has heard from the state Department of Cosmetology that guidelines would be released once Gov. Newsom lifts restrictions. She also wants officials to know they have the foresight to work safely, which they are trained to do.

"Everybody is incredibly anxious to get back to work," Creekmore said. "We can't blame them."

The state says the online unemployment benefit system for independent contractors is about two weeks away. The Labor Secretary says, however, that money would be delivered within 24 to 48 hours of an application, and would be retroactive.