'I'm so overwhelmed': Wake County business owners forced to close as coronavirus spreads

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Many non-essential businesses in Wake County were forced to close Monday and many more across the state will be closing by Wednesday at 5 p.m. after Gov. Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order to close down gyms, health clubs, movie theaters, hair and nail salons, barber shops and massage therapists.

As part of Wake County Commissioners' new State of Emergency Declaration, all fitness clubs, gyms, hair and nail salons, spas, tanning, massage, and tattoo salons had to close by 8 a.m. Monday along with other businesses offering professional grooming services.

County leaders said it was a necessary step to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent overrunning the healthcare system with cases of COVID-19.

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Lauren Russ, a self-employed hairstylist who runs her own salon, LaVex Hair Studio in Cary's Waverly Place, has been contacting her nearly 500 clients since the order came down Sunday.

"Even in this, I've had people reach out just to say we're here for you if you need anything, we know you rely on this income and it's been really nice," Russ said.

As a hairstylist for the last 15 years, Russ has experienced security in her career that she said seems to weather any economic downturn, until now.

"I've never experienced anything like this," she said. "I've never--I've always worked my entire life. I've never had to look for unemployment. I don't know--I don't even know where to start. I'm so overwhelmed."

Susan Lee, owner of Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi in Raleigh's Lynwood shopping center decided to move many of her classes online last month to cater to out-of-town clients.
While she said she depends on foot traffic in the shopping center that's home to several hair and nail salons and other fitness centers, she's relieved some of her business will continue to function.

"Let's hope for and be positive and maybe this will be over and done with in a month, but if we have to keep going, we're prepared to do that," Lee said.

Roi Parker, who owns his own salon in Raleigh's Cameron Village, decided to close late last week ahead of Wake County's order to do so. He and the hair stylists who rent space in his salon have been contacting thousands of clients.

"Just to let them know that you really care about them, you love them, and definitely want them back in, but you want them back in to a really clean, safe environment," Parker said.

The Wake County restrictions were put in place to last until April 30, but as with all other coronavirus plans, they are subject to change at any given time.

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