MEDIA, PA — Businesses across the nation are struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic as closure orders have prompted a halt in revenue and clients. In Pennsylvania, nonessential businesses, including barbershops and salons, have been ordered closed since mid-March.
But a Delaware County shop owner is planning to defy that order, saying she has little choice. Nichole Missino, owner of Giovanni’s barbershop in Media, said she plans to reopen her business May 9.
Missino told Patch on Wednesday she feels compelled to open because her employees are worried about feeding their families. “We have all applied for unemployment, applied for loans,” she said. “They said we’d get all this money. Nobody has seen a dime.”
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Missino has six employees, some with children. She has been operating in Media for more than four years. Her clients include essential workers, police officer, firefighters and even judges and lawyers thanks to her proximity to the Delaware County Courthouse.
“If the state did what they said they would do, we wouldn’t be doing this,” she said of reopening.
While the decision to open is being welcomed by her staff and her numerous clients — her May 9 opening is nearly booked up with people looking for cuts and trims — others are not happy about it.
Missino said she has been getting negative comments from people who say she is creating a health risk. But Missino said trained barbers and hair stylists are well-versed in sanitation.
“There’s a whole chapter on sanitation [in barber schools],” she said.
Additionally, she said her shop is likely cleaner than a location such as Walmart due to her ability to limit how many people are inside and the fact her shop has much less square footage to clean than a superstore.
To ensure her shop is clean, Missino is having shrink wrap partitions installed between all her chairs to ensure the only people she and her staff interact with are the clients they are seeing.
She has also installed UV lights in drawers throughout the store. These UV lights take just two minutes to disinfect barber tools, she said.
Clients will wait in their vehicles outside the shop and come in when permitted. Missino will also offer touchless hand sanitizer, masks and face shields to clients, and will be checking clients’ temperatures. Her floors are being redone at the moment as well.
In defying the order, she does face potential fines and could even have her license suspended. Pennsylvania State Police have been called on by the Wolf administration to enforce the orders.
To prepare for any potential repercussion, she said she’s been speaking with a lawyer.
“We just have to play it by ear,” she said.