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Rebel barber of Snohomish risks slap by regulators

SNOHOMISH — The owner of the Stag barbershop on Avenue D may be risking his business if he continues giving haircuts — something he’s adamant is his right to do — while the state prohibits it under a coronavirus-related safety restriction.
The state Department of Licensing already sent a warning letter asking him to stop and voluntarily comply with the governor’s restrictions. As of Thursday, May 7, “the next step in our disciplinary process may be a license suspension,” state licensing office spokeswoman Christine Anthony said.
Snohomish county's Health District also sent a cease and desist letter for violating the county health officer's order on non-essential businesses, and ordered owner Bob Martin to stop or risk having the county prosecutor come after him, the Tribune can confirm.
Martin’s personal barber license began in 1967. Another media outlet reported that on Friday, May 8, the licensing office sent a suspension letter against that barber license.
Stag Barber and Styling’s salon license, as a business activity, lapsed in 2017 (the renewal fee is $160).
The Stag’s dual city and state business registration is current.
He’s operated the Stag in the Snohomish Square shopping plaza since 1969, and has told the press the threats don’t faze him. Long lines of customers flocked to his shop every day last week since word got out he reopened.
Phone calls to the shop immediately transferred to its answering machine.
Martin has said a statement by county Sheriff Adam Fortney said he wouldn’t enforce the governor’s orders convinced him to open publicly.
Mayor John Kartak and City Council President Jason Sanders came out with a letter to the community Thursday, May 7 saying that “all community members and businesses are expected to comply with emergency measures while we move toward economic recovery, together.” People should not call the Police Department about business violation concerns as reports are handled by the governor’s office.
The final step in the violation process would have the state Attorney General get involved with a potential court action.
Gov. Jay Inslee closed down entire business segments in late March to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. On May 4, he announced a multi-phase approach where certain industries can reopen.
Barbershops and hair salons can legally reopen in the state’s next immediate phase. When this switch happens is not concrete, but June 1 is anticipated to be the date, the state’s Secretary of Health suggested in a briefing with reporters May 5.
Legislators request earlier open for small businesses
On May 6, local legislators sent a letter to Inslee asking the governor to allow more types of small to medium-sized businesses in Snohomish County to open sooner than June 1 if solutions for safe practices can be developed.
“New reported cases of COVID-19 in our county peaked over a month ago and have dropped significantly since then. In light of this, we would respectfully ask that you consider easing the current restrictions on small to medium-sized businesses during Phase 1,” they wrote.
Ten Snohomish County mayors, including Kartak and Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas, and County Councilmen Nate Nehring and Sam Low were the signatories.
New COVID-19 cases in Snohomish County hit their zenith in mid-March when there were, on average, 70 new cases a day. During late April, it fell to approximately 25 cases a day, and during first week of May, the average was under 10 new cases being logged daily, from a Tribune review of Snohomish Health District data.
Fortney speaks on defiance
Fortney wrote on his “Sheriff Adam Fortney” Facebook page, his former campaign social media page, on Monday, May 4 to point out that while he isn’t enforcing the governor’s orders, the governor hasn’t asked any law enforcement agencies to conduct enforcement.
Fortney reaffirmed he never asked for open defiance.
The post’s timing arrived after the Stag hit the news that weekend.
“I have never encouraged defiance of the law,” he wrote in his post. “To the contrary, I have encouraged residents and business owners to exercise their rights under the law by reaching out and contacting their local leaders and state representatives.”
Fortney said a similar message during an April 22 media conference: “I’m not calling for open defiance ... I’m asking for equal treatment on the orders” on which businesses Inslee will allow to open, he said.

 

  

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