Bay Staters Taking Haircuts Into Their Own Hands
The fact that people who are not professionals can cut hair without catastrophic results also illustrates a larger point, according to Shoshana Weissman, a policy fellow at the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C.: that occupational licensing laws surrounding professional haircuts are too strict.
In Massachusetts, for example, earning a barbers’ license requires 1,000 hours of classroom hours at a specialized trade school; meanwhile, an EMT license requires just 150 classroom hours, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington D.C.-based organization that is skeptical about government regulations.
“So there are innumerable laws that get in the way of cutting hair – something moms and dads do for their kids all the time, safely,” Weissman told New Boston Post in an email message. “Depending on the state and locality, laws often require that you must only cut hair in a salon, you cannot have salons (or other home-based businesses) run out of your home, and you cannot cut hair in others’ homes. Also, you have to be a licensed barber to do it, which can take thousands of hours of training.”
All 50 states require barbers to be licensed. However, from 1983 to 2013, Alabama was the one exception. And when the state put a licensing requirement in place in 2013, they grandfathered in everyone who was already a practicing barber. This made them eligible for the license without taking any classroom hours or exams, even if they started just before the law was enacted, according to the Institute for Justice.
Weissman added that she understands why professional barbers and hairdressers would not be allowed to make house calls during a pandemic, but normally she believes there are too many barriers — in terms of cost and time — associated with getting into the profession.
“Now, I’m completely sympathetic if, for the interim, haircuts at home cannot happen due to coronavirus concerns,” she added. “That’s reasonable. But if crackdowns are happening just because of the existing overly-burdensome regulations, it’s silly at best and extremely harmful to people trying to make an honest living at worst.”