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Hair industry in Orange County adapts to get back to work during pandemic

Travis Vu, 47, of Anaheim, finishes cutting the hair of client Thuy Ngo outside TravisVu the Salon in Fountain Valley.
Travis Vu, 47, of Anaheim, finishes cutting the hair of client Thuy Ngo outside TravisVu The Salon in Fountain Valley on Saturday. Vu is now able to operate in the open air following guidelines set by the city because of the coronavirus.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

After nearly 25 years in the cosmetology industry, Travis Vu became a first-time business owner in opening TravisVu The Salon in Fountain Valley two years ago.

The coronavirus pandemic put a strain on his business, as it has for many, with shutdowns put into effect in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“The first month, I thought, ‘It’s OK. Maybe just one month and they can open again,’ but when they start to [get to] the second and third month, I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’” Vu said. “It got so depressing.

“I got so stressed out, and I’m worried, because all the bills, we still have to pay. None of them give us any break, even the rent. Everything. We were really stressed out when it got to May and we’re not open yet.”

When barbershops and hair salons were allowed to reopen in late May, Vu, 47, of Anaheim had deferred rent to pay. Then a spike in coronavirus cases resulted in him having to close his doors again. He said he broke down and almost cried.

After securing a permit from the city, TravisVu The Salon (10130 Warner Ave.) opened again for business this week. Three chairs were set outside under the shade of a roof for clients to arrive after having booked appointments.

Iced water with lemon and wrapped refreshments were put out on another table.

TravisVu The Salon can handle up to four outside stations.
TravisVu The Salon can handle up to four outside stations. Owner Travis Vu is now able to operate in the open air following guidelines set by the city because of the coronavirus.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“We’re lucky that we have this kind of roof, and the direction of the sun [allows for shade],” Vu said. “So it’s very cool, and [Mile Square Park] right across the street is very nice, so breeze is coming all day long. It’s very nice.”

Marlys James-Jolly, 70, of Long Beach joked that her hair stylist was able to take 10 years off her appearance after receiving a haircut at TravisVu The Salon on Saturday.

“[It was] a huge relief, and I could relax about what my hair is going to look like,” James-Jolly said of being able to get a professional haircut again. “I’ll come back in five weeks, and if that’s outside, that’s fine, too. I like it being outside, if you want to know the truth. I wish they would continue with that.”

The state has issued comprehensive guidance for barbershops and hair salons to reopen. Outdoor operations can take place under a tent, canopy or other form of sun shelter that has no more than one side closed. That is to allow for outdoor air movement.

Customers are to be screened and asked not to bring others to appointments. There are also extensive requirements for cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and equipment.

Denise Konopelski, 64, of Seal Beach decided to work with a friend to rent a suite in Huntington Beach through Sola Salon Studios. Their salon remains closed, as it is not on the ground floor.

In the meantime, Konopelski said she has taken to giving haircuts at home.

Cosmetologist Jessica Hamilton does a cut and partial highlights on a client, Michelle Norris, outside TravisVu The Salon.
Cosmetologist Jessica Hamilton does a cut and partial highlights on a client, Michelle Norris, outside TravisVu The Salon in Fountain Valley on Saturday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“Everything is over the top, but I feel that if you do everything over the top, then you’re following the rules,” Konopelski said of the guidelines for operating. “With sanitation as such a big thing, everything has to be washed. I’m forever washing everything, but I just am going overboard so that I can’t get in any trouble, and of course, I have to keep my clients safe, and I want them to feel safe, so it’s a real clean environment.”

Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said that the city has ramped up its messaging to urge the public to utilize masks. As for the stringent guidelines for hair salons and barbershops to conduct business, Semeta believes that an eagerness to get back to work will lead to compliance.

“I think that people are very motivated to try to be open if they can, so at least there is a path forward for if they’re willing to go through … putting all those guidelines in place,” Semeta said. “I know in the city of Huntington Beach, we try to be very facilitative to allow businesses to open under the guidelines while keeping them safe, and these guidelines certainly are going to make sure that happens.”

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill said that as of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, permits for outdoor services in the city had been issued to 69 restaurants. He added that permits were in progress for three hair, nail or massage businesses.

Travis Vu turns away walk-up clients because he has a full schedule outside TravisVu The Salon.
Travis Vu turns away walk-up clients because he has a full schedule outside TravisVu The Salon in Fountain Valley on Saturday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 31 coronavirus deaths and 637 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest numbers released on Saturday.

The pandemic has claimed 649 lives in the county, while the cumulative cases seen countywide stands at 36,833.

There are currently 546 hospitalizations related to the virus, with 169 of those patients in intensive care units.

An additional 6,357 tests were administered within the last day, bringing the number of tests for COVID-19 in the county to 415,621. Approximately 23,860 recoveries have been made after contracting the virus.

Here are the latest cumulative case counts and deaths for select cities:

  • Santa Ana: 6,967 cases; 172 deaths
  • Anaheim: 6,278 cases; 158 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 1,694 cases; 46 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 1,198 cases; 10 deaths
  • Irvine: 1,189 cases; nine deaths
  • Newport Beach: 835 cases; eight deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 363 cases; nine deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 133 cases; fewer than five deaths

And here are the demographics in Orange County for the case counts followed by deaths:

By age:

  • 0 to 17: 2,216; 0
  • 18 to 24: 5,474; 2
  • 25 to 34: 8,328; 10
  • 35 to 44: 6,007; 21
  • 45 to 54: 6,002; 58
  • 55 to 64: 4,415; 84
  • 65 to 74: 2,162; 122
  • 75 to 84: 1,231; 147
  • 85 and older: 965; 204

By race/ethnicity:

  • Latino: 8,639; 272
  • White: 5,454; 204
  • Asian: 1,568; 92
  • Black: 285; 8
  • Unknown: 16,580; 11
  • Other (includes Pacific Islander, American Indian and multiple races): 4,307; 62

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