ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings sent a letter to Florida’s governor on Friday, urging him to allow barber shops, hair and nail salons to reopen immediately.
Orange County leaders said the letter was sent to the governor at around 3:50 p.m. on Friday, two days before phase one of the state’s reopening plans is set to take effect.
"Today, the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force recommended reopening barber shops and cosmetology salons with strict guidelines in order to protect the safety of clients and employees," the letter reads.
Demings said he believes the cosmetology industry is already heavily regulated when it comes to sanitization.
"I believe that through making appointments, they can certainly schedule individuals, and they can control the social distancing," Demings said in a news conference on Friday.
He quipped that people could also need a haircut.
"A lot of people, in terms of overall hygiene for themselves, they need a haircut," he said.
The letter came as welcome news to Orlando barber and Orange County Recovery Task Force Member John Henry.
“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how hard companies like mine have been hit by this pandemic,” he said. “I hear from small business owners in barbershops every day that they are struggling.”
News 6 reached out to the governor’s office for a comment and is still waiting to hear back but the governor did issue a news release Friday night saying he will be meeting at an Orange County hair salon Saturday afternoon. Read more about that planned visit here.
The task force thought keeping social distance at churches might be more difficult.
"We’re recommending that they not open," said Pastor Zak, a task force member. "(We recommend) they maintain at 10 persons or less at present."
Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said he will be watching the new numbers of COVID-19 cases very closely.
He said he will be looking to see when the area might be ready for phase two of reopening, and if phase one causes any new outbreaks.
"This disease spreads really, really, really fast. If we open too fast -- meaning number of venues and places and people -- it could get out-of-control," he said.
Demings announced Orange County would use money from the federal CARES Act to purchase one million face masks and 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for small businesses that are reopening and need assistance.
The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force will continue to meet next week.