“This whole thing started in the state of California, the first community spread, in a nail salon. I just want to remind everybody of that and that I’m very worried about that,” Newsom said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Sacramento.
Newsom then told the media that he could not release more information about the initial spread location due to health and privacy concerns, but promised to provide additional details when possible.
Newsom received immediate backlash from the beauty industry, who called his statement “surprising and disappointing.”
“As a former restaurateur himself, the governor knows the daily struggles of small business owners such as the 11,000 nail salons in California where approximately 80 percent of salons are owned and operated by Vietnamese Americans,” said Mike Vo, board chair of the Pro Nails Association in Irvine.
Vo added that the statement “pained” the community, explaining that Newsom’s remarks could lead to further anxiety and heightened fear in today’s toxic climate.
On Friday, Newsom addressed the concerns that his comments may hurt the nail industry, describing workers as “noble” and a way to move their families out of poverty. He said that he did not mean for the statement to be an “indictment” of the industry, but to serve as an explanation of why nail salons were not included in the first or second phase of California’s reopening.
California is beginning its second phase of reopening, with lower-risk workplaces being first to open. “Curbside retail” — which includes bookstores, toy stores, music stores, and florists; are all phased to open with curbside pickup and delivery only until further notice. The second half of phase two will allow places like shopping malls, office-based businesses, car washes, and dine-in restaurants to open.
California Gov. Newsom just said the first case of community transmission in the state occurred in a nail salon when responding to a ? about why salons/personal services are in Phase 3 for reopening.
— Stephanie K. Baer (@skbaer) May 7, 2020
Nail salons are not on the list of low-risk workplaces, along with other personal services like gyms and tattoo parlors.
Even after attempting to distance himself from negative fallout, Newsom is getting a lawsuit threat from an association of salons and barbershops. The association would sue to force him to let them reopen sooner, arguing they already undergo extensive training on sanitation.
The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology recommended that nail technicians wear gloves and masks to protect workers from inhaling toxic chemicals, but does not require protection for all services. Newsom reiterated that the streamlined safety guidelines are one reason California will not allow the reopening of nail salons until the third phase.
NBC News also confirmed that some salons in the state have already reopened, despite Newsom’s phased opening plan. At least 33 salons operating illegally have been shut down across the state, according to the Gov.
As The Inquisitr reported, Los Angeles became the first major city in the country to offer free, widespread COVID-19 testing for residents.