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Louie Sanchez, owner of Louie’s Barbershop in Joliet, said he was shocked his shop managed to stay alive after being closed for more than two months under Gov. JB Pritzker’s sheltering order.

The barbershop at 932 Plainfield Road, along with many other barbershops and salons, was able to re-open Friday after the northeast region of the state entered Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois COVID-19 recovery plan. Pritzker had issued a stay-at-home order in late March and extended it after 30 days in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s really hard for a small business to survive in this type of climate,” Sanchez said.

He said his first customer was already at the shop about 6 a.m. Friday even though they were scheduled to open at 8:30 a.m. and he had 8 customers by 10 a.m.

Adrian Almeida, one of his customers, said he had not received a haircut in more than two months and wanted his hair cut at Louie’s Barbershop despite offers from family members.

Almeida said he understood the guidelines the state put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus but he considered the shop an essential business.

Under Pritzker’s stay-at-home executive order, barbershops and salons were deemed “non-essential” businesses.

Lori Maher, owner of Salon Platinum, 917 Brook Forest Avenue, Shorewood, said she considers salons an essential business.

“Personal grooming is essential,” Maher said.

She said she knew people who were desperate to get a haircut and people she didn’t know were contacting her through Facebook about getting one.

One customer at Salon Platinum said it had been 12 weeks since she had a haircut.

“In light of everything else, it wasn’t something I lost a lot of sleep over but I’m very thankful to be here today,” she said.

Sanchez said his shop survived by scraping by and cannot sustain itself “in this type of hostile market.” He said state has not considered how its response to the pandemic impacts small businesses.

“You can’t just worry about the coronavirus and that’s it. There’s other facets and moving parts to this,” he said.

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