So here’s one of the worst-kept coronavirus secrets:

If you really want to get a haircut, you can get one.

It’s right there under our noses: not-so-subtle social media posts, secretive texts about semi-stealth meet-ups between barbers and customers, some who have been known to offer 10 times the price of a pre-COVID cut.

For barbers, the temptation to keep working is overpowering, especially while waiting for unemployment or small-business grants that might never come.

I’m a strict coronavirus rule-follower, but choosing between following the rules and feeding your family is not a choice.

And while claiming a God-given right to haircuts is an idiotic thing to protest about when thousands of people are dying every day, closing barbershops that are vital in communities for so many reasons beyond a close cut make this national isolation even harder.

They’re communal gathering spots.

A safe place for kids.

A second chance for many.

Alcides Franceschini, owner of Consider It Done Barber Shop, stands by the front window of the closed shop on May 5, 2020 As barbers sit at home due to the mandated coronavirus closures, many worry not just about their jobs but the future of barbershops in neighborhoods where they are more than just a place to get a hair cut.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Alcides Franceschini, owner of Consider It Done Barber Shop, stands by the front window of the closed shop on May 5, 2020 As barbers sit at home due to the mandated coronavirus closures, many worry not just about their jobs but the future of barbershops in neighborhoods where they are more than just a place to get a hair cut.

Alcides Franceschini, known as “Mr. Cee,” is the longtime owner of Philadelphia’s Consider It Done Barbershop.

The North Philly barber had a backup plan during the 2008 recession. He went back to school for a few months to learn how to drive a truck so he could keep his business open and his barbers working.

But not even a second job could help during the pandemic, when forced shutdowns didn’t just close his place, but dried up his trucking opportunities for a while.

He worries about the future of the shop, which was already struggling financially. But he also wonders what these neighborhood touchstones will look like on the other side of the pandemic.

Can youse really debate barbershop politics or talk smack about rival sports teams through masks? What happens to kids who find their way to the barbershop, looking to sweep up to keep busy? Or the guys who found stability by becoming barbers? “Let’s just put it this way,” Mr. Cee said. “Being a barber saved my life.”

No one knows for sure what the new protocols will be, but Philly area barbers said the days of waiting rooms and walk-in appointments are likely over. Although he thinks the reaction to the virus has been a bit overblown, Joey Andris, owner of L.K. Trendsetters Salon in the Mayfair section of the city, has already spent upward of $1,000 on protective gear in anticipation of reopening.

Alcides Franceschini, owner of Consider It Done Barber Shop, holds a protective coverall they purchased to work safely in when the coronavirus broke out. As barbers sit at home due to the mandated coronavirus closures, many worry not just about their jobs but the future of barbershops in neighborhoods where they are more than just a place to get a hair cut.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Alcides Franceschini, owner of Consider It Done Barber Shop, holds a protective coverall they purchased to work safely in when the coronavirus broke out. As barbers sit at home due to the mandated coronavirus closures, many worry not just about their jobs but the future of barbershops in neighborhoods where they are more than just a place to get a hair cut.

In the meantime, barbers wait and worry while forced to make some tough — and potentially dangerous — decisions.

Eric Robledo, a barber at Consider It Done, used to help out his elderly parents; now they’re helping him. So, it’s been hard to say no to giving a few cuts (in protective gear) to longtime customers who are friends. In the nearly two months since the shop’s been closed, his co-worker Nathaniel Zenon, a father of five, went through his savings and credit cards until he felt he had no other option than to do something most barbers I spoke with have also done: Make a few house calls.

“I mean, I gotta do what I gotta do to put food in the fridge,” he said. “I’m behind on rent. It’s been rough for us ‘nonessential workers.’”

Not that he or other barbers consider themselves nonessential — especially given how much training licensed barbers get in sterilization.

View this post on Instagram

So I want to take a poll on our clients to see who thinks it is safe for us to reopen the shop and start to cut hair soon. I want honest inputs on this situation we are in. It’s getting harder and harder to keep it closed. April and May so far I had to pay rent since the landlord is not stopping our rent and I have Zero help from this Government got denied another loan/grant last night. How can this be right for the small businesses. So I want to discuss even if you don’t want to comment on here send me a text/dm me and I want to know good or bad feedback on this. It’s almost that time where we as the business owners have to stand up and fight. No where in the Constitution says we can be closed. This whole thing from the Governor is a Recommendation to close down. Who will police the situation on shops opening back up other than Snitches! Local Pd has too many other things on their plate. Talked with some State Troopers and don’t seem as if they are worried about us. So enlighten me? This post is not about coming back and making money. It’s about feeding our sanity and we’ll being. I’ll miss the at home time but enough is enough. So clients, who thinks it’s safe under new guidelines of us opening the shop. I’ll just name a few. We are all appointment only. Every one staff and clients get their Temperature scanned by a contactless thermometer. Zero waiting chairs inside the shop. Staff will need to be inside the shop and prepared to start their day 15mins before their start time. The door will remain to be locked no clients will be allowed in until the barber/stylist is ready for them. Upon arrival there will be hand sanitizer once you walk in the door we ask all clients to use it and then go wash their hands in the bathroom and dispose their papertowel. Every client will get a freshly washed Cape to cover them! We will set a side additional time so we can be over the top sanitized and prepared waiting for our next client! 4 work stations so only 4 clients allowed in at a time! (Unless a young child needs assistance during their haircut) Let’s talk about this...

A post shared by Joey Toes (@joeya_fade) on

Ron Curtis, longtime owner of Final Touch Barber Shop in Ambler, opened a barber school in Philly just weeks before the shutdown, forcing him to close shop and move classes online. But he’s keeping the faith. He’s just been approved for a small-business loan, and if he gets the money, he plans to help his employees out until they’re back at work. “It’s way bigger than cutting hair,” he said.

Of all their fears and frustrations, barbers have a message for the people making decisions about their livelihoods:

“I relate it to Prohibition 2.0,” said Nick Tosti, owner of Fuze Barber Shop in Newtown, Bucks County. “When you take away alcohol legally in the ’20s, were people still drinking? Think about how unsafe those transactions were, to go and have to buy alcohol in a backroom alley. This is what’s happening right now. It’s very, very serious."

For now, there are numerous online petitions calling for barbershops and salons to open, and some barbers are meeting virtually to discuss their comebacks for those lucky enough to get them.

Alcides Franceschini, owner of Consider It Done Barber Shop, stands in the doorway of the closed shop on May 5, 2020. As barbers sit at home due to the mandated coronavirus closures, many worry not just about their jobs but the future of barbershops in neighborhoods where they are more than just a place to get a hair cut.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Alcides Franceschini, owner of Consider It Done Barber Shop, stands in the doorway of the closed shop on May 5, 2020. As barbers sit at home due to the mandated coronavirus closures, many worry not just about their jobs but the future of barbershops in neighborhoods where they are more than just a place to get a hair cut.

Two months into mandatory shutdowns, there already are plenty of businesses around the country that tried to hold on but couldn’t, their sad news often shared in unceremonious social media posts.

I came across one posted on Facebook last week from the owner of a Minnesota barbershop who tearfully announced:

“Prohibition Barbers will not be reopening.”

Hi Folks

Posted by Prohibition Barbers, Inc on Tuesday, April 28, 2020