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Sacramento hair salons, barbershops push to reopen as debt piles up

While Anthony Abdol's landlord is working with him on delaying payments because of the pandemic, he said his rent is not being waived, so the debt is piling up.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A group of "behind-the-chair professionals" chanted in front of the California Capitol steps on Monday afternoon, urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen hair salons and barbershops.

"Open salons now," the group chanted.

As those hairstylists from across the state rallied to send a loud and clear message up to Newsom, Sacramento barber Anthony Abdol is just trying to get by.

"It's really hard for me because I live paycheck to paycheck," explained Abdol, the owner of Fade Masters, which is located in North Sacramento.

Abdol said his barbershop has been in the family for 13 years. Because of the pandemic, he said he has not been receiving paychecks or unemployment benefits yet, so he hasn’t been able to pay rent on his shop in three months.

While he said his landlord is working with him on delaying payments because of the pandemic, the rent is not being waived, so the debt is piling up.

"It doesn't go away. I have two kids, my wife also isn't working at the moment," Abdol said. "We're all hanging around the house praying to God that eventually we can go back to work. We just want to go back to work."

Salons are also anxious to reopen.

Racheal Esquivel, the owner of Color Me Pretty Hair Salon in Arden-Arcade, said she's been out of work for a long enough time and needs to get back to work before it's too late.

Esquivel said rent is now completely on her.

"Rent is still due for me, but I have been waiving rent for my booth renters for the last three months now," Esquivel said.

Newsom said the state's hair salons and barbershops will open under Phase 3 of his 4-stage plan, which groups the shops with other so-called "higher risk workplaces" like gyms and in-person church services.

On Monday, he said the shops and salons could open within the coming weeks, but there is no clear timeline.

"Treat us like essential workers," Esquivel said. "This is our business, this is our source of income, and there’s nothing else coming in for us right now."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Lena Howland.

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