Highly restrictive occupational licensing already limits cosmetologists in North Carolina. Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 23 Executive Order shut them down completely for who knows how long. And when all this is said and done, state law makes putting their businesses back to order very difficult.

Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis describes a very scary time for NC workers in this industry. A snippet:

… “People were saying, ‘I want to report this girl,’” Jane said. That was before Cooper even issued a statewide order to stay home, she said. When the governor announced a 30-day shelter in place beginning March 30, the nail technician didn’t realize she could be slapped with a Class 2 misdemeanor — and potentially lose her license.

But when the social media threats worsened and Jane learned her concierge manicure business was illegal, she yanked her Craigslist ad, canceled her appointments, and shrank from public view.

“I never wanted to break the law,” she said. “I never had any prior [criminal] history, anything like that whatsoever.”

What Jane didn’t realize, she told CJ, was that in-home salon services were illegal in North Carolina long before the governor signed an order banning them during the pandemic. As emergency policies force closings well into April or May, Jane — and others like her — are rife with questions about how they’ll survive the impending economic slump.

Aside: this snitch mentality emerging among our fellow citizens is scary and reminiscent of petty neighbors helping Stalin surveil the Soviet Union. Cut it out.

All of this prompts another recommendation on removing the red tape that’s making it harder for North Carolinians now during the coronavirus shutdowns and later in trying recover quickly:

Allow in-home visits by licensed cosmetologists and barbers and let them set up home businesses

Why: People want (and will increasingly need) their services, and as many shops are likely to close over the next few weeks, practitioners will need places to work

It’s fair to say that for most people, the idea of going another month without hair care and other professional grooming is not a pleasant thought.

State law forbids cosmetologists from home visits except for people in hospitals, nursing homes, rest homes, etc., or for people sick or disabled or confined to their homes. At this point, since we’re all confined to our homes, allowing in-home visits would seem to serve the spirit of the law.

Going forward, the short-term climate for business isn’t pretty. Shops are going to close. For cosmetologists, this is made worse by the state law forbidding from practicing outside licensed shops as well as by any local ordinances forbidding them from practicing out of their homes.

They’re going to lose places where they can legally practice. Consumer needs will go unmet. Prices will go up. Policymakers need to ask how necessary, really, are those prohibitions.