Sire, the peasants are revolting!

You said it. They stink on ice.

Sorry. I can rarely resist a good Mel Brooks quote. But in all seriousness, there may be a bit of a peasant revolt shaping up in California. Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest lockdown orders have shuttered even more businesses. One group that’s been particularly hard hit are the barbers and hair salon workers. Those “nonessential” operations have been shut down for a while. And now some of the hairstylists are threatening to go rogue and start traveling to practice their craft at people’s homes. (CBS Los Angeles)

A local business owner is campaigning to be labeled “essential” so that she, and others in her position, can get back to work.

Veteran stylist Raychel Harrison has been spending her time preparing color to-go for her loyal customers after being forced to close her salon in Calabasas six weeks ago…

When Harrison saw the governor’s proposal this week for reopening California, with salons in Stage 3, behind retail, schools, and childcare, she wrote an open letter, urging the state to reconsider.

Harrison ended her letter to the Governor with a warning. If the state doesn’t relent and let them reopen the salons soon, stylists are going to start taking their operations on the road and serving customers in their homes, potentially making more people sick. She also brings up a point about California’s obscene licensing requirements, though perhaps unintentionally. She notes that California hairstylists are required to take 1,600 hours of sanitation law courses in order to receive a permit allowing them to practice their trade.

On the one hand, you would think that anyone taking that many classes is probably already up to speed in terms of keeping their operation sanitary. But the other point is the fact that a hairstylist has to take 1,600 hours of courses to get a license. That’s simply insane. I’m not sure if my doctor had to put in that many hours of classwork. Aren’t barbers and hairstylists considered to be part of “the trades?” (As in, you don’t need a college degree to work in that field.) The regulatory state in California is totally out of control, but this is ridiculous even for them.

Still, it sounds as if Harrison is making several good points here. While it’s clearly true that stylists and barbers have to work in close proximity to their clients and even come in contact with them, they should be able to minimize the risk of contagion with some basic precautions. If both people are wearing masks, the stylist wears gloves, and all of the equipment has been sterilized between every appointment, is the risk really that great?

I understand that barbers and hairstylists probably don’t leap to mind when you think of “essential services,” but perhaps that’s not really the point here. Harrison says she hasn’t been able to receive any sort of federal relief as a small business owner and she apparently doesn’t qualify for unemployment. Even if she received a loan she’s not sure how she would repay it. There are plenty of other workers and business owners out there in the “nonessential” category who are in the same boat. If they’re willing to safely give it a try and their customers are ready to come back, shouldn’t they have a chance to at least try?

It’s a question that’s going to require an answer sooner rather than later. A different California salon owner defied the state’s orders and opened up last week anyway. The County Public Health Department said the owner should face criminal charges. Welcome to Lockdown America.