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Salon employees worry about money, safety in wake of COVID-19

Posted: 10:38 PM, Mar 20, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-21 10:12:08-04

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. (WXYZ) — Licensed cosmetologist Ashlee Fickel said making the decision to stop taking clients wasn’t an easy one, but it’s something she and others at her salon in Livonia felt was necessary in wake of COVID-19.

“I’m a single mother of three and I work paycheck-to-paycheck. So for me to lose weeks worth of work is terrifying to say the very least," she said.

As of Friday night, nail and hair salons in Michigan are not required to temporarily close, unlike bars and restaurants, which Gov. Whitmer required to close for sit-down business on Monday.

"We’ve definitely seen a decline in our clientele. We’ve had several people call and cancel. We still do have the die-hards that want to come and get their hair and nails done," Fickel said.

Despite the financial risk to her, she wishes more clients would cancel, as she doesn't want to be exposed to the virus.

Hair stylist Arika Dinko's salon in St. Clair Shores is still open.

“I’m concerned because were working really close with clients. I resorted to do appointment only because I don’t know where people are coming from," she told 7 Action News.

She’s since made the decision on her own to stop taking appointments all-together; changing gowns and extra cleaning she feels just isn’t enough.

7 Action News asked Gov. Whitmer's office about this issue Friday night.

“The governor is working around the clock to protect Michiganders during this crisis. She strongly encourages all Michigan businesses to make smart choices based on science to protect the health and well-being of their workforce and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus," said the governor's press secretary Tiffany Brown.

“It’s an extremely irresponsible decision to keep places that keep the public coming in open," Fickel said.

Fickel, who relies solely on commission from her clients and doesn't have paid time off, said she's unsure of how her decision to stop working will impact her family.

Because she and her fellow salon workers chose on their own to stop taking clients, she's also concerned about qualifying for state assistance.

Her salon is a small business, and she said her fellow workers are worried not only for themselves, but for the future of the salon.

Thursday, Gov. Whitmer announced U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved her request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration, opening the opportunity to small businesses to access low-interest loans from the SBA.

Dinko, who rents a booth at her salon, is technically self-employed. She also relies solely on customer commission and said she won't be receiving any form of payment while she's not working.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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