Jude’s Barbershop worried about ‘underground’ haircuts

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The owner of Jude’s Barbershop has penned an open letter expressing concerns about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that forced barber shops and salons to close amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas Martin owns Jude’s, a West Michigan-based barbershop chain with 27 locations throughout the state.

“Whispers of underground hair services being done in homes- where there are no standards for safety and cleanliness- started trickling in just a week into the shutdown,” an undated letter signed by Martin reads in part.

Martin suggested that barbershops can serve their clients safely in some communities.

“It makes sense to allow businesses in the hair industry to open in areas of Michigan where the threat of coronavirus is limited as people don’t typically travel more than 5 miles for a haircut,” Martin wrote. 

“The longer the hair industry is not allowed to open to the public, the more these underground services will increase along with the greater potential for coronavirus spread in these unregulated environments,” the letter continued.

>>Read the open letter

“This is not only happening during this pandemic, but this is when it’s even more nerve-wracking,” Ashley Putnam, the hiring director for Jude’s, said of amateur haircuts. “You don’t have, necessarily, the disinfectants and the ability to sanitize the area you’re in or the tools you are using.”

She said Jude’s has the means to cut hair while it minimizes the threat of spreading the virus.

“Having masks — both parties wearing masks — having the hand sanitizer available, hand washing, the disinfectants,” she listed. “I do believe we can do this.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week said some industries like landscapers and plant nurseries could get back to work. On Monday, she rolled out the MI Safe Start plan, which will bring businesses back in phases start with those at lowest risk for spreading the virus.

She previously indicated in an interview on MSNBC that places like salons would be among the last to reopen.

Jude’s is waiting for that to happen — hopefully sooner rather than later.

“We look forward to seeing everyone as soon as we possibly can,” Putnam said.