featured graphic for the California Department of Public Health during COVID-19

State of California issues guidelines to allow re-opening of barbershops and hair salons

Some of us have been waiting to get a haircut since well before March 19, when Governor Gavin Newsom issued the lockdown.

Here’s the text of the guidelines:


On March 19, 2020, the State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health issued an order requiring most Californians to stay at home to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population.

The impact of COVID-19 on the health of Californians is not yet fully known. Reported illness ranges from very mild (some people have no symptoms) to severe illness that may result in death. Certain groups, including people aged 65 or older and those with serious underlying medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, are at higher risk of hospitalization and serious complications. Transmission is most likely when people are in close contact with an infected person, even if that person does not have any symptoms or has not yet developed symptoms.

Precise information about the number and rates of COVID-19 by industry or occupational groups, including among critical infrastructure workers, is not available at this time. There have been multiple outbreaks in a range of workplaces, indicating that workers are at risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19 infection. Examples of these workplaces include long-term care facilities, prisons, food production, warehouses, meat processing plants, and grocery stores.

As stay-at-home orders are modified, it is essential that all possible steps be taken to ensure the safety of workers and the public.

Key prevention practices include:

  • physical distancing to the maximum extent possible,
  • use of face coverings by workers (where respiratory protection is not required) and customers/clients,
  • frequent handwashing and regular cleaning and disinfection,
  • training workers on these and other elements of the COVID-19 prevention plan.

In addition, it will be critical to have in place appropriate processes to identify new cases of illness in workplaces and, when they are identified, to intervene quickly and work with public health authorities to halt the spread of the virus.


This document provides guidance for hair salons and barbershops to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. Services for these operations must be limited to services that can be provided with both the worker and customer wearing face coverings for the entirety of the service. For example, haircuts, weaves and extensions, braiding, lock maintenance, wig maintenance, hair relaxing treatments, and color services can be provided.

Services that cannot be performed with face coverings on both the worker and customer or that require touching the customer’s face, e.g., eyelash services, eyebrow waxing and threading, facials, etc., should be suspended until those types of services are allowed to resume.

Hair salon or barbershop owners or operators must acknowledge that lessees should only resume operations
when they are ready and able to implement the necessary safety measures to provide for their safety and that of their customers. The guidance is not intended to revoke or repeal any employee rights, either statutory, regulatory or collectively bargained and is not exhaustive, as it does not include county health orders, nor is it a substitute for any existing safety and health-related regulatory requirements such as those of Cal/OSHA or the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.1Stay current on changes to public health guidance and state/local orders, as the COVID-19 situation continues.

Cal/OSHA has more comprehensive guidance on their Cal/OSHA General Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19 webpage. CDC has additional requirements in their guidance for businesses and employers.

Further guidance

The document goes on for five more pages covering:

  • a worksite specific plan is required
  • workers must be trained: employees, independent contractors, temporary workers
  • individual control and screening measures should be considered and implemented
  • cleaning and disinfecting protocols: no inside waiting areas and no niceties like magazines or self-serve coffee
  • physical distancing guidelines: no customer tag-alongs, ask customers to shampoo at home, one customer at a time with no overlap

There’s a lot more detail. Everybody with shaggy hair should remember to be patient, follow staff directions, and keep a sense of humor!


  1. Why can you rinse color from someone’s hair but you can’t do a facial wax. Your hair color is rinsed out in a bowl which is where the waxing is usually performed at least that’s how my stylist does it and if you wear a mask what’s the problem????

  2. Are we allowed to blowdry & shampoo at the salon?

    1. Author


      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze and for taking the time to comment on this article.

      After reading the State guidance document for barbershops and hair salons, it is my understanding that clients at hair salons should be encouraged to shampoo their hair at home before coming to the salon. What if a client expects a shampoo? You can shampoo, but then you have to disinfect the shampoo area before using it again.

      Also, it is my understanding that blowdrying is not allowed at all.

      Finally, both client and hairdresser must wear a mask.

      The Orange County Health Care Agency has a webpage on guidance for businesses, with links for specific types of businesses. However, there is as of right now no guidance document for barbershops and hair salons. Since the State of California has published guidance, I expect the County of Orange to catch up and publish guidance shortly.

      Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Stay safe, stay healthy!

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

      1. Hi, Im trying to figure out where in this article or in the guidelines you have found that blow drying is not at all permitted? Im having a hard time finding that anywhere. Thank you!

        1. Author


          Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to comment on this article, and to ask about blow drying.

          Your comment gave me a chance to check on myself. I re-read the entire ten-page State guidance document, and found nothing about blow-drying.

          The County of Orange has not yet posted guidance.

          So I am off-base in thinking that blow-drying is discouraged.

          Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for giving me a chance to correct myself.

          Stay safe, stay healthy!

          Shelley Henderson
          editor, Orange County Breeze

    2. Blow drying seems like a safe thing to do. Viruses do not do well in heat. It also gives the stylist a way to clear the head of cut hair without contact.

  3. I know some people who had a hair stylist come to their home and have told me they will try to continue doing that. They said it was a “friend” who likes to cut hair and did not charge them, but appreciated a monetary donation.

    In some ways that seems safer than everything I have read re reopening salons. Or maybe not. I will wait a few weeks before returning to my hair salon as I want to help the stylists stay employed.

    1. Unfortunately a “friend” has not been trained by the State Board or Barbicide how to properly disinfect and sanitize their tools between use. So there begins the spread of disease and viruses. They also have not been trained how to cut hair for that matter. Inviting anyone into your home during a pandemic is risky, much less someone who is traveling around from home to home doing the work of professionals. Just sayin.

  4. I work at a salon. I noticed it says that clients need to wash at home before they come in? That’s not how the company is taking care of this

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