Salon workers seek guidance from KCMO amid COVID-19 concerns

Posted at 8:33 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 23:54:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the last six days, Jamie Ludwig has stayed at home.

“My husband is immune-compromised and I have asthma,” Ludwig, who works as a hair stylist, said.

Kansas City, Missouri, has outlawed public gatherings of 10 people or more and are encouraging all residents to practice social distancing, which includes staying six feet away from other people.

Unfortunately for Ludwig, that latter suggestion was impossible to do at work.

“I touch a person probably 75% of the two hours I am with them if we are doing a color and a cut,” she said. “I am consulting. I am shampooing. I am applying color. I am cutting. It is absolutely impossible to not come in contact with that person, even with gloves on. Six feet, there is absolutely no way to provide that service.”

Ludwig isn't the only stylist or nail technician who reached out to 41 Action News and said they are “frustrated.”

One stylist, who asked 41 Action News not to identify her because she feared retaliation from her employer, said she fears the industry is putting her and others at risk by staying open.

“None of us know what to do," Ludwig said. "We don’t know where to seek financial aid" ... but closing “has not been put out as a mandate yet.”

KCMO officials told 41 Action News: “We fully expect all establishments to abide by social distancing guidelines. If they cannot practice proper social distancing, we expect them to take the responsible step to temporarily close. We will be issuing additional guidance in the coming days.”

But for now, workers are in limbo, stuck between a fear of getting sick or a fear of losing a job.

The Johnson County Health Department had more specific guidance for workers across the state line, advising that nail salons can remain open if “nail techs wear masks and gloves," Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Health Director Dr. Joseph LeMaster told 41 Action News.

Tanning salons, he said, may also remain open but “they must practice the COVID-19 prevention guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and federal, state and local public health officials for social distancing and infection control measures.”