‘Like it was a drug raid’: Stockton salon upset about enforcement visit due to COVID-19 violations

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Customers and stylists at Stockton’s Pomp Hair Salon saw something they never expected to see on Wednesday — armed officers with body armor.

This was due to violations of an emergency order by the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology requiring them to follow their lockdown emergency order.

Husband and wife owners Vicki Kirk and Dino Ballin said it was humiliating for customers and stylists.

“They burst into our salon and they treated it like a drug raid,” Kirk told FOX40.

The officers from the enforcement division of the Department of Consumer Affairs tried to cool tempers as shouting and expletives occurred.

The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology issued a statement that said violations of the emergency order could involve the removal of licenses from barbershops and salons.

“The Board strongly encourages licensees, as well as the public, to comply with the applicable Regional Stay-at-Home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the statement read, in part.

But the owners of Pomp said salons are not spreading the virus and cited contact tracing numbers showing infection more much more likely to spread in businesses that are allowed to remain open.

“If there were any evidence that we should close, we would close, absolutely. There is virtually zero evidence to support the closure of our industry,” Ballin claimed.

“I just want to earn a living and we all want to do it safely,” Kirk said. “We have strict safety protocols here, and we will continue to do so.”

The couple said they believed they were singled out because they are outspoken critics of how lockdown rules are applied, citing health protocol violations by the governor and other officials.

“There’s these people in authority who are setting these restrictions for our citizens who are not following it themselves,” Ballin said.

They said that they have to speak up for the 43 stylists who work in the salon and for the industry.

“We don’t want to be doing this, any of this. We don’t want to be doing this interview today. We just want to open and work. We just want our rights,” Ballin said.

They intend to stay open even if it means losing their state license to operate.

The Department of Consumer Affairs said three citations were issued after the enforcement action, which will be sent to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office for further action.

The couple said since the video of the incident was posted on Instagram, they’ve had an outpouring of support, including from numerous attorneys who said they will take on their case without pay.

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