‘I’m so scared’: California nail salon workers face ruin as pandemic wears on

By Erica Hellerstein Sep. 19, 2020

When the coronavirus forced the closure of the nail salon where Tracy Tran works in Los Gatos, she was immediately robbed of two things she held dear: work and sleep.

Ever since arriving in the United States from Vietnam 13 years ago, Tran, 39, has been doing nails. But she and her husband were forced to temporarily close their family business, La Orquidea Salon and Spa, in March because of coronavirus restrictions — leading her to depression and insomnia.

This month, as Santa Clara County moved to a less restrictive tier in the state’s coronavirus reopening system, La Orquidea reopened indoors at a reduced capacity. But Tran still wakes up in the middle of the night with her mind racing.

“I’m scared,” she says. “If it stays like (this), we may have to close the shop.”

The coronavirus pandemic is devastating the multibillion-dollar nail industry in California, affecting the livelihoods of tens of thousands of mostly minority women. Tran is from an especially hard-hit group: According to the UCLA Labor Center, nearly 3 out of 4 nail salon workers in California are of Vietnamese descent.

Tran says she feels a proverbial whiplash, with the state’s reopening requirements for counties dependent on the latest numbers of coronavirus cases. La Orquidea first closed in mid-March under California’s shelter-in-place order. Salons in some counties were allowed to reopen in June, but in Santa Clara, salons didn’t get the green light until July. But even this brought little relief: Two days after the salon reopened, it shut again after a new state order halted indoor operations in counties on California’s coronavirus monitoring list.

Read more at the SF Chronicle

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