Executive order forces closure of barbershops

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Empty barbershop after an executive order forced the closure of all shops for the time being.

Sparties Barbershop, vacant after an executive order temporarily closes all barbershops in Michigan. (Photo by Ahmaad Hood-Sutton)

The spread of COVID-19 has closed various businesses in Michigan, and barber shops are no exception. After an executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, barber shops were forced to close from March 22 to April 13, listed as non-essential personal care services. 

“The effect of the virus on barbers and barbershops has been devastating,” said American Barber Association President Damon Dorsey. “Even moreso in states where the virus is quickly going and more restrictive measures have been implemented to minimize human contact.”

Closures have happened in New York, Wisconsin, Michigan and several other states. The American Barber Association released its own statement as closures were happening, emphasizing precautions and listing symptoms of COVID-19. 

“We expect that all states will eventually require businesses, especially those like barbershops and salons, to close.” Dorsey said. 

The American Barbershop Association shares guidelines similar to those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the virus spread and information continued to come out, some barbershops in the East Lansing area closed before the executive order, but it was not a requirement. For the ones that  remained open, sanitation was an emphasis. 

“I personally clean the shop on a daily basis,” barber Ahmaad Hood-Sutton said. “I was disinfecting everyone’s chairs and clippers. It would have been super easy for the virus to go around cause of an unsanitary issue, whether it be airborne or from uncleaned equipment.” 

Hood-Sutton works at the Sparties Barbershop in East Lansing. Because it is one of the only open barbershops in the area, Sparties Barbershop had an increased volume of customers in the days leading up to its own closing.

“You could easily see it. I worked the whole week before closing and people were always flowing at a good rate,” Hood-Sutton said. “A lot of people were hoping that they could get a good haircut with the impending pandemic and they were happy to see we were still open.” 

As was the case for most places, the sudden closure was unexpected and tough on the business. Because of the potential issues, the American Barber Association is sending stimulus checks to the barbershops affected. 

“We were caught off guard by the rise of the virus and the impact it would have on barbershops,” Dorsey said. “With the stimulus coming out, we are hoping to provide business development assistance to barbershops. Hopefully those that are closed can use some of the stimulus money to support their operations, maybe purchase new equipment and cleaning supplies, and prepare for when business returns.”

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