Allow Soft Opening from COVID19 for Salons, Spa's, Massage, Yoga, Personal Training and Receive Promised Unemployment

I am a Small LOCAL Business Salon and Spa owner. I am also a Licensed Massage Therapist, Esthetician, Nail Technician and a Certified Natural Health Practitioner who resides/works in Charleston SC, 29414. I am writing to ask you to consider the unique concerns of health and wellness & beauty professionals like me as you authorize additional financial support for the self-employed, I.C.'s, 1099, Schedule C business owners in the coming weeks and asking for a guided "Soft Opening" for these business's.

Massage Therapists, Reiki Practitioners, Estheticians, Nail Technicians & Hair Stylists. Many of us have been lumped into a broader "personal care" category of self-employed business owners, but we need to be considered separately.

Here's why:

• We are required to follow a code of ethics. Part of our code of ethics involves weighing the risks and benefits on a case by case basis through a verbal communication between client & service provider. And also, through documented intake forms for massage therapy, skincare, nail care services.

• We are upheld to high standards of sanitation, disinfection & cross contamination per the Governing board SC LLR and are inspected to remain open.

• Our work is required to be done in person. Unlike other professions, our work has to be done not only in person but hands on for the majority of a client's appointment. We are in close contact. We cannot work remotely from a computer.

• Many businesses that offer personal care services are petitioning to be able to reopen early, but nothing has been mentioned for the field of hands-on salon, spa, reiki practitioners, massage therapy, estheticians, nail technicians, hair stylists, yoga instructors & personal trainers.

• We're at risk of losing our physical business locations. Between delays of EIDL loans and PPP loans, lack of government funding, coupled with PUA delays- We, as self-employed, are not even able to APPLY until April 25th for unemployment benefits in our state and now are being told that there are no funds available. We were told that UI would be available for the self-employed, 1099, Schedule C and IC's in March 2020. I would say close to 0% has been helped! Since mortgages, rent, utilities, car payments, car insurance, etc. cannot be paid without ANY income, unemployment, loans, forgivable loans, or a 1 time stimulus payment, we are in danger of having to start from scratch & Many of us are at risk of losing our physical business locations and/or careers altogether which will in turn cause us to lose so much more!

• We were Ordered to shut down and stay closed until the government decides our fate by breaching our constitutional rights.

•We are asking to be able to have a "soft opening" based upon the number of staff & clients allowed at the same time on location. We were looking to have no more than (2) clients and only (2) service providers at the time that are staggered with social distancing based on the amount of square footage deemed appropriate. We can also stagger these appointments accordingly for proper disinfection. We will do intense proper sanitation of our stations, equipment, reusable disinfect able supplies, as we are already required to do so but even more sanitation and disinfection than before. If we are required to wear masks and/or gloves we will do so in order to get us back to work! Our clients NEED us as we NEED them. In many ways, we ARE Essential as well, not only for health but for the economy.

• We are asking for this "soft opening" immediately by May 1st.

• We are also facing greater barriers to reopening due to the nature of the job. Due to the heightened health risks, touch-based businesses are going to struggle even after they reopen. It's going to take time for the public to feel comfortable with touch, personal space and even after social distancing guidelines will have been lifted. We are going to need additional financial support from our government in order for our businesses to survive.

• There are approximately 35 free standing Spas just in Charleston alone, Not including: salons, nail salons, massage establishments, massage practitioners, yoga studios, yoga instructors & personal trainers.

I'm writing to ask you to take all of these issues into consideration not only as we re-open but as you weigh future legislation. We want to ensure our own safety as well as the safety of our clients, but we also want our businesses to survive. As the Executive Order is eased and as you consider adding more local assistance programs, please keep the issues affecting salons, spas, reiki practitioners, massage therapists, estheticians, nail technicians, hair stylists, yoga instructors & personal training businesses in mind. Thank you.

~Danielle M Vaillancourt
Salon and Spa local small business owner/operator
Charleston, SC 

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