Governor orders closure of close-contact businesses in Vermont

Published: Mar. 21, 2020 at 9:35 AM EDT
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Gov. Phil Scott has mandated that all in-person operations at close-contact businesses, meaning those unable to comply with guidelines for social distancing, must close by Monday at 8 p.m. This includes gymnasiums, fitness centers and similar exercise facilities, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors, hair salons and barbers.

Our Erin Brown spoke with some of those businesses and found out the closures may impact more than just their bottom line.

Starting Monday night, you won't hear the sounds of scissors and clippers in Vermont hair salons.

The governor is mandating that they close until at least April 15 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"As I've said throughout this crisis, I will continue to act to slow the spread of this virus in Vermont because we must protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and ensure they can get the care they need, when they need it," said Scott, R-Vermont. "We will continue to make decisions based on science and guidance from our experts. I don't make these decisions lightly and my heart goes out to these workers and small business owners who are feeling the negative effects."

Sara Roach, who owns That Salon in Essex Junction, says she immediately started crying when she heard the news.

"Super sadness. Because this is totally my outlet and it's the only thing that I have," she said.

Roach says she's heartbroken, partially because she'll lose hundreds of dollars a day but also because she won't get to see her clients.

"I feel like every hairdresser in this community is probably grieving the loss of that sort of connection with people right now," she said.

But Roach says she also felt a sigh of relief because social distancing is impossible when doing someone's hair.

"Breathing over people at the sink. Shampoos have been like, 'turn your head' and 'sorry, you don't get much of a scalp massage today,'" Roach said.

Roach says it hurts but she knows this is what's best.

Casie Winton, who owns Shear Envy in Burlington, agrees but she's still worried.

"It would be easier if we had an endpoint," Winton said. "Like, if we knew when we were coming back to work so we could plan, but right now, it's just open-ended. We could be closed for a week, we could be closed for two weeks or we could be closed for three months. We have no idea."

Winton says she and her four stylists can't file for unemployment because they're self-employed. She hopes Governor Scott comes out with a way for them to get some financial recourse.

"We have our bills and our mortgages and car payments. With no income, it's hard to pay those," Winton said. "It's going to be a financial struggle for a little while."

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