Barbers and hairstylists in New York state are calling for their own eligibility for the COVID vaccine.
Dan Woycik owner of the Center Square Barber Shop on Lark Street in Albany NY.
He says: “We think about the fact that we are, at a minimum, at close contact with somebody, in their personal space for 20 minutes at a time,” he said. “And if we’re shaving somebody or doing a beard trim, they have their mask off.”
Dan Woycik added that he, and each barber at his shop sees roughly 15-20 clients every day.
During the pandemic, they shut down for three months. Woycik saw how happy his customers were to return.
“When we first opened back up, for people to be able to do one normal thing again, to come into the barbershop and get a haircut, it was a big thing for a lot of people to be able to come back.”
He cleans the shop, gets tested regularly, and cuts down on the number of barbers who can work at the same time. Each customer gets fresh smocks and towels, as well as the usual new razor blade.
Many people are puzzled about why this industry hasn’t been added to the eligible list, including County Executive Dan McCoy, who spoke about it Monday.
“The fact that they’re not on that list, they should be, because I’ve learned that people want their nail salons, their hairdressers and their barbershops, but they’re not on there,” said McCoy.
The governor just lowered the age to 50, but Woycik says there are a lot of young people in this profession.
“We take all the precautions we have to take, and we do our best to make sure everything is clean and sanitized, but we really feel that we’re being potentially exposed. Not being able to get the vaccine, and not being eligible for it at this point is — we feel like we’re being left out.”