PITTSBURGH — “I hope you can keep fighting. It’s very difficult as the owner to keep fighting,” said aesthetician Elaine Gustafson.
Those are the words of advice Gustafson has for fellow aestheticians.
“At nearly 62 years old, I think it’s going to have to be early retirement. I don’t know if I have it in me again to open a business to possibly have it shut down,” Gustafson said.
She’s closing down because she’s not allowed do to facials due to COVID-19 regulations implemented by the Pennsylvania Board of Cosmetology.
It’s a service that makes up most of her income.
“It’s very difficult to make a living doing a brow wax or a brow tint as comparing to do a facial,” Gustafson said. “My business is down 53% for the year and my profits are down 70%.”
She’s not the only one.
Ann Kukucka, with Esthetics Salon and Spa, said it’s not fair that other states are allowing it.
“I think we had high hopes with this last call with the state board of cosmetology, if New York was opening and has opened, that we will be next,” Kukucka said.
In fact, there’s even a petition online that calls for the state to allow facials to prevent the closure of small businesses.
It’s something John Hopkins infectious disease doctor Dr. Amesh Adalja agrees with.
“I do think this is a service that can be done relatively safely, and at this phase of the pandemic as we are trying to move forward in trying to understand what activities can be done safely,” Adalja said. “Nothing can go down to a risk of zero but you can take some preventive measures — screening clients as they come in, screening employees before they’re at work and making sure the employees are wearing a face shield and mask will minimize the risk.”
Gustafson says she has made those modifications.
“I’m safe. I wear a mask. I wear a shield. I wear gloves. My clients know, don’t come in if you’re ill. I’m not going to treat you if I’m ill. It’s a little mutual respect,” she said.
But it’s too late.
“At this point it means I am going to close. I can no longer wake up every day hoping that the rule will change,” Gustafson said.
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