Oklahoma hair stylists under scrutiny for working inside private homes during COVID-19 pandemic

Newsfeed Now

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) –  After salons and spas were shut down along with non-essential businesses last week, Oklahomans are reporting some stylists are still working inside homes- but that’s something state officials are saying isn’t safe or even legal.

“We come in very close contact with people everyday,” said Sherry Lewelling, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Cosmetology and Barbering.

That’s why the governor shut those businesses down in counties with confirmed cases, and as of today, all 77 counties in the state.

But some hairstylists have been found to be working out of private homes.

State Sen. Carri Hicks said a stylist who came to her home for a standing appointment with her family is a long-time friend.

“So obviously if you have that established relationship and that mutual respect for each other’s safety, then I think that’s a little different than potentially not knowing who’s going to be in and out of that space during the day,” Sen. Hicks said.

She said the stylist removed her shoes, and wore a mask and gloves during the entire visit.

“We have been in quarantine and we’ve been practicing the social distancing guidelines,” Sen. Hicks said, “so we basically just made those modifications to our regularly scheduled appointments and I think it was a safe interaction for both parties.”

News 4 has also heard reports of stylists opting to work out of their own homes.

“That is illegal activity,” Lewelling said. 

Unless a home salon meets certain criteria and has been approved by the Board, working from home and working in someone else’s home were already illegal for the sake of public health. The current crisis brings these rules into sharp focus. 

“You cannot cut hair from six-feet away, you can’t abide by the distance rule,” Lewelling said.  “This is more about isolation. It’s not about just closing your doors in one place and opening up in another.”

News 4 asked the governor if licensure changes might be made to allow stylists to work inside homes during this time. 

“I’ll take that into consideration and release some guidance on that,” Governor Stitt said, “but as long as you stay out of groups of 10 or more we understand that there’s things like that you’re going to have to continue to figure out ways to do.”

However, until the law is changed, Lewelling said she’ll report information she’s heard about violations to county sheriffs, the current enforcers of the statewide mandate.

“That’s a sad thing for all of us,” Lewelling said, “because in this industry, for most people out there, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

TRENDING STORIES