NMSP shuts down barber
May 27, 2020
CLOVIS — Shaves and haircuts may cost a Clovis barber $100. That’s because she’s been cited by state police for violating a public health order brought on by COVID-19.
The Hotel Clovis Barber Shop has been closed since May 16.
The citation filed Thursday against Jennifer Estes, 50, is the first of that nature filed in either Curry or Roosevelt magistrate courts since public health orders were issued in March shutting down non-essential businesses.
Many businesses reopened at limited capacity earlier this month, but the state has so far held off allowing barber shops, salons, gyms and movie theaters to reopen their doors or for restaurants to allow in-person dining.
Since she opened her shop more than four years ago at the ground level of Hotel Clovis on Main Street, Estes has had a customer base of around 18 to 25 people a day. Over the last few weeks, she was down to about seven to 10 before she got a May 16 visit from the New Mexico State Police.
Estes said she told police that based on documentation on the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists website she understood she had the option to open. They countered, she said, that the website for the governor’s office indicated otherwise.
Later that morning, Estes had her mom in the barber’s chair and the NMSP told her she couldn’t be in the shop at all before issuing the $100 citation. The door has been closed since.
“I have to comply from here,” Estes said, “because the next thing they’re going to do is take my license.”
She is due at Curry County Magistrate Court on June 4 for a criminal summons, and is hopeful by that point barber shops and salons are cleared to open again and the judge will toss out the citation.
Estes, a barber for more than 30 years who spent two decades in California, said she doesn’t understand why she is shut down by a public health order when her licensing was based only on her ability to be sanitary.
“I’ve never gotten sick,” Estes said. “I’ve been tested for coronavirus. I tested negative. I’ve seen hundreds of clients. I know how to sanitize. I know how to protect myself and the patrons, and this is (expletive). A virus can’t even live in my shop because I’ve sanitized so much.”
Lt. Gov. Howie Morales told The News in a recent interview the state consistently receives questions about reopening hair and nail salons, but noted that much of the COVID-19 spread was traced back to those establishments.
When asked if she had filed for any state or federal aid, Estes said she did file for unemployment last week. She was able to claim herself as an employee, but was not eligible for aid as the owner of the business.
“We’re getting screwed, really bad,” Estes said.