INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis and Marion County are starting to shift to phase two of Indiana's reopening plans but the transition will be a slow one.
Businesses that will not be included in Marion County's phase two reopening — non-essential manufacturing, hair salons and barbershops.
It's been a frustrating day for Indianapolis barber Bryan Lomax. He's among the Marion County barbers and beauticians who thought they would be able to reopen the doors to customers on Friday. But after the announcement by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Wednesday that won't come until June at the earliest.
"I was totally shocked because of the inconsistencies," Lomax said. "We are first told April 20. Then we were told May 1. Then we were told May 15 and today we got the news that we couldn't open until June 1. It was a huge disappointment because we were prepared."
Lomax's Indianapolis barbershop hasn't seen a customer since the first stay-at-home orders were issued in March. He said during the down time he's been ordering personal protection supplies and more disinfectants for the reopening he planned for this week.
"Some of us spent money to make sure we were prepared for this, now we have to wait another two weeks," Lomax said. "That's kind of a burden on our pockets."
Lomax is not only the shop's master barber, he's a small business owner who's been paying for a shop he can't use. The federal government has rejected his small business loan request and Indiana's unemployment program has yet to tell him if any benefits will come his way.
Lomax said it's a common situation for gig workers who he believes are very essential.
"We are essential workers," Lomax said. "You've got certain people who work jobs that require they look a certain way. Some restaurants don't allow men to wear facial hair so we're definitely important."
Lomax said customers should feel safe in the barbershop when the doors eventually reopen thanks to the number of sprays and disinfectants barbers are already required to use. He said keeping his clients safe and healthy is part of his duty as a licensed barber and is disappointed city leaders aren't trusting him to do just that.
"This is what I do. Thsi is what I love to do," Lomax said. "That's what makes it more frustrating. To be told not to go to work is one thing. But to be told not to do what you're passionate about make it even more frustrating."
Lomax said he is still considering applying for a rapid response loan offered at the local level.