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La Jolla Salon Operator Sues State Over COVID-19 Restrictions

Downtown San Diego federal building on Aug. 13, 2018.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: Downtown San Diego federal building on Aug. 13, 2018.

The operator of a La Jolla hair salon filed a proposed class-action lawsuit Tuesday against the state of California over its coronavirus closure orders, alleging disproportionate enforcement of pandemic restrictions against the beauty industry.

Tatoma Inc., which does business as Atelier Aucoin Salon on Girard Avenue, alleges in the suit filed in San Diego federal court that the state has singled out barbering and cosmetology professionals for complete closure of their businesses while other establishments have been allowed to operate either at reduced capacity, outdoors, or remotely.

California has shut down salons through its regional stay-at-home order, which was extended late last month "despite the lack of any showing or evidence that the operation of hair salons at the same levels permitted for other types of businesses would lead to increased transmission rates of COVID-19," the suit alleges.

The suit seeks compensation for "all residents in the state of California holding barbering or cosmetology licenses which were active as of March 19, 2020, and who have been unable to work at any time from March 19, 2020, to the present due to the closure orders issued by the state of California."

The suit alleges salons were shuttered "without just compensation," while the state has "categorically labeled plaintiff's industry 'non-essential,' thereby conscripting plaintiff and other licensees to joblessness and taking their property without due process or legal justification."

While the salon remains closed, the operator has not taken in any income but must still make monthly rental payments, pay licensing fees and cover other operating costs, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit is one of several filed by local business owners against the state and county over shutdown orders, many of which make similar claims that officials have arbitrarily enforced pandemic orders against their industries or classified their businesses as non-essential, while other seemingly non-essential businesses were allowed to keep operating.

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