One Roxboro business owner said it was time to get back to normal and reopened her hair salon Thursday.
Jessica Wesley said the decision to reopen was a long process that was decided on a whim.
“In the long process I was trying to figure out what would happen if I didn’t open and I stewed on it every day, then I woke up in the morning over the weekend and said ‘well, I guess I gotta do it,’” she said.
Wesley said she is fully booked for Thursday and has many text messages coming in asking if people can come in to support her.
She also said she has received several negative messages in response to her reopening.
Wesley said she received one message that said the person wished she got COVID-19 and was denied medical care, but the split is 90-10 in favor of positive messages.
She said others have expressed their support, but said they won’t come in.
“That’s fine – don’t come in here,” she said. “Do you and I’ll do me.”
Wesley said she’ll wear a mask if clients wish.
“It’s about preparation, It’s not about fear. It’s about facts and the fact is that this is life. I don’t know what we’re going to wake up with tomorrow. My daughter was born February 16 and the next week my son’s appendix burst and we had to have him rushed to the hospital and they removed his appendix. There’s nothing I could’ve done to prevent that. Then the next week my daughter had [respiratory syncytial virus]. I felt her go limp and she turned purple and stopped breathing and she had to be Lifeflighted to Duke. She spend four days in intensive care for a virus – the common cold. Her little body fought it off. In this world, you’ve gotta fight – whether you’re fighting for your life or your business.”
She said the financial aspect has played a part, but she didn’t want any sympathy.
“At this point I feel like I’m almost fighting for just my freedom. The Governor is getting paid through all of this. $750 in a week. That doesn’t do anything for me. I have double bills – a mortgage and a rent payment, two light bills and two water bills, two internet bills. People will say, ‘maybe your landlord should give you a break.’ No he shouldn’t. Then I’m taking money out of his pocket. It’s like a trickle down thing. He has been so kind, but that’s not how this works. I should be able to come to work safely and cautiously and not be persecuted for it.”
Wesley said there is the possibility that she could lose her license from the State Board of Cosmetic Arts.
“It’s a license. I would rather lose my license than my dignity and I’m an entrepreneur. Hair is my favorite thing to do, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
However she said she does fear being arrested.
“I’m petrified – I don’t want to be arrested, but everybody that has ever gone down in history for standing up for something had to wear handcuffs.”
She said she had tried to contact the Roxboro Police Department, but had not heard from them.
“I’ve tried to call them about eight times this morning and I hear that their phone lines may be down. But I’m giving them credit – they may not have anybody at the front desk because they’re scared of the corona. And they might be out dealing with other real crimes. Real crimes are happening. Is it a real crime that I’m practicing in a safe environment for my clients to come to? I don’t think so.”
Wesley said she is not trying to inspire everyone to run back to work, but instead to feel normal.
“I don’t want to inspire all the hairdressers to go back to work, but if there’s somebody sitting at their house freaking out and losing their mind because there’s a virus out there and I inspire them to put on some makeup, put some earrings on and walk outside and feel good about themselves or at least feel a little bit normal. Then that’s what I’ve accomplished. It’s about people feeling free to be them. Go outside. Get some air. Put some makeup on. Let’s not hide anymore. And if I have to stand behind my chair and do it this way, then I guess I’ve come this far.”
Roxboro Chief of Police David Hess and Lt. Chris Dickerson went to the salon around 11:45 a.m. and asked Wesley to voluntarily comply with the order.
“We really, really want you to voluntarily comply with this,” Dickerson said. “I know it’s going to be difficult being at home and not having any income come in and I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry. But we cannot allow here is people in the city of Roxboro not voluntarily comply.”
Wesley said she had done what she wanted to do.
“I feel like we’ve done enough to get the point across, so lets just call it quits. It was fun.”