Wolf Says Salons, Barber Shops Cannot Reopen Before Green Phase of COVID-19 Reopening Plan

Jeff Oravitz
May 19, 2020 - 9:59 am

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - During a discussion with the KDKA Radio Morning Show with Larry Richert and Kevin Battle, Governor Tom Wolf was asked if he would lift the closure restrictions on salons and barber shops to allow them to open before reaching the Green phase of his COVID-19 reopening plan.

"No. Not before we get to green," Wolf replied. "We're working on guidance and things, but let me just give you... I talked to the County Executive of Allegheny County yesterday morning, and he called me actually, just to say that yesterday was the first full day, really, that Pittsburgh was in the yellow zone. He said there was nobody, I don't know what you've seen, but he said there was nobody in the streets.

"So one of the things I think we've got to be careful about is we can do all of the changes in guidance or flick switches or wave magic wands, but in the end the people who are gonna determine whether we're open or closed are the people of Pennsylvania. Each and every one of them. They're the ones that are going to decide whether they're going to go to the barber shop. And so we can change guidance, but if they're not confident that they can stay safe, they're not going to go to the hair dresser or the barber shop. That's the kind of thing that I think we really have to focus on - what's it going to take to provide that confidence?"

Kevin followed up asking, "So, if you say that, then wouldn't it be better to allow the adults to make their own decision whether they stay home or whether they reopen their business?"

Wolf replied, "Yeah, I think, ultimately they do. The question is 'how much should the state work to provide information?' For example, is it safe to go to a restaurant if the air handling system may be transmitting the virus? Again, we're not fighting each other here, we're not fighting the federal government or the state government or the local government. We're fighting that virus and if we give the virus too many opportunities to infect other people, that's not going to make us feel safe going anywhere.

"So I think the state does have a role - so do local health... there's a great health department in Allegheny County - to inform people so that when they make decisions, which they ultimately will, that they're informed decisions. I think that's the Democracy works. That's the way the market works."

On KDKA Radio with Marty Griffin on Tuesday, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald offered a little hope, but not a promise saying his sense is, “Within the next couple weeks there will be announcements, there will be plans and I do think the businesses you and I are talking about will be opened up in short order.”

Salons and barber shops were among the non-essential businesses that had to close when stay-at-home orders were put into place across the state beginning in March. In the yellow phase, these businesses are not permitted to operate. 

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