By Elizabeth Klinge

VACAVILLE (CBS13) — Salons and barbershops across the state have been back open indoors for more than a month but the battle over pandemic-related closures may be far from over.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is taking action to pull a Vacaville barbershop owner’s license. Primo’s Barbershop reopened for business in May in violation of the state’s coronavirus restrictions, and now the owner is saying he’s not giving up his fight.

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For months now, it’s been business as usual inside Primo’s Barbershop despite statewide coronavirus restrictions. The haircuts continued, until now.

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“Every day’s a different thing with that governor’s office,” owner Juan Desmarais said. “To be honest, I’m not surprised in the least.”

A stack of paperwork arrived in the mail documenting months of defiance and calling on Desmarais to appear in court.

“It’s their evidence which is pictures, complains from other salon owners, barbershops and regular citizens,” he said.

Now, his licenses are on the line.

“If the courts uphold the state’s request to repeal my licenses, there’s nothing I can do about that. I mean, I’ll appeal it and I’ll fight it again and I’ll hire more lawyers we’ll just continue the fight,” Desmarais said. 

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He says it’s a fight that has drawn support from across the country and has grown to become about more than his business even if it means facing an uncertain future.

“I’m not trying to make money by staying open, I’m trying to provide for my family, and trying to allow my barbers to provide for their families. I’m trying to show the American people and example of how to not live in fear and to stand their ground,” Desmarais said. 

And Desmarais says he’ll do whatever it takes to provide for his family.

Just because I don’t have a piece of paper doesn’t mean I can’t make a living and provide for my family,” Desmarais said.  “Whether that’s digging ditches or going to people’s houses and cutting hair, I’ll do whatever I have to do.”

CBS13 reached out to the Attorney General’s office Monday about this case. A spokesperson said they area handling the case on behalf of their client, the Department of Consumer Affairs.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Department of Consumer Affairs issued the following statement:

“From the beginning of the pandemic, the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has provided licensees with resources and guidance on how to be in compliance with state and local orders. The Board has also advised that not being in compliance with state and local orders could be subject to action on their license.

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After several complaints that this establishment was not following orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including but not limited to, wearing masks by both workers and clients, and physical distancing, the Board initiated action via the Attorney General’s Office against Primo’s Barber Shop located in Vacaville, CA. The Board investigates every complaint that comes in, and can take action against a license if evidence proves that a licensee or business violated rules and regulations. This is done on a case by case basis. If Board representatives visit an establishment on multiple occasions and observe operators and clients not wearing masks or practicing physical distancing, the Board can forward a case to the Attorney General’s office for disregarding the health and safety of patrons.”

Elizabeth Klinge