The Washington state Attorney General's Office on Wednesday delivered a cease-and-desist order to the owner of a Snohomish barbershop who refused to follow Gov. Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" proclamation that nonessential businesses stay closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, and has been cutting hair for the past few weeks.
Robert Daniel Martin, of Stag Barber & Styling, was notified in writing by the state Department of Licensing that he was violating Inslee's order, but he continued to see customers. They agency sent a second notice the next day. Still, Martin remained open.
Two days later, the agency served Martin with a summary suspension of his cosmetology operator license. Then the Snohomish Health District issued Martin a warning letter, and a week later a Health Officer's Order "because your on-going barbershop operations were in violation of state law and threatened public health," read the letter from Assistant Attorney General Daniel Allen of the agency's Consumer Protection Division.
But Martin continued to cut, and was still doing so Tuesday, when he and two other barbers were seeing customers from 8:30 a.m. until well after 5 p.m.
"I served several years in the Marine Corps, and I'm not going to put up with this crap," Martin told The (Everett) Herald, by way of explanation. He did not speak to reporters Tuesday and did not return phone messages about the cease-and-desist letter Wednesday.
Martin is following the lead of Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, who last month said he would not enforce Inslee's stay-home order during the coronavirus pandemic, calling the order unconstitutional and damaging to the economy and to families. Two recall petitions against Fortney have been filed in the time since.
"Engaging in the commercial practice of hair styling and barbering without a license is a violation of RCW 18.16.060 and a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, RCW 18.16.250," Allen's letter read. "We understand the financial impact of Stay Home, Stay Healthy, but that does not exempt you from the requirement to remain closed. The Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is necessary for public health."
Allen explained how the COVID-19 virus spreads "easily" from person to person, and the only way to control it is to maintain social distancing, including closing nonessential business.
"By keeping your barbershop open, you are endangering the lives of your customers and your community," Allen wrote. "It is also unfair for you to offer barbershop services while your competitors are complying with the Proclamation and making sacrifices for the benefit of the community."
Unless Martin closed his barbershop in 48 hours, Allen wrote, "We will have no choice but to file a lawsuit against you and seek monetary penalties. This is your final warning."