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Barber shop owner who vowed to reopen hosts rally instead

May 9, 2020 GMT

MEDIA, Pa. (AP) — A suburban Philadelphia barber shop owner who had vowed to reopen over the weekend in defiance of the governor’s shutdown order instead hosted a rally calling for an end to the shutdown.

Giovanni’s owner Nichole Missino on Saturday cited threats from the state board that licenses her and her business and from local police she said had promised action to revoke her occupancy license.

Missino said last week that she and her six employees had been unable to get unemployment compensation and collectively decided to reopen the Media shop. She said barbers are trained to contain infectious diseases and vowed additional safety precautions, including masks, face shields and partitions between barber chairs.

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But instead, she held an impromptu rally Saturday on the salon’s front steps, telling a crowd outside through a bullhorn “What happened to ‘Home of the Free’? I don’t know where I live anymore.”

“I do have a lawyer and I am speaking to him,” Missino said, “And I’m going to try to figure out how to open because we can’t stay closed.”

About 70 people had booked appointments for what would have been the shop’s reopening weekend, but Missino said she called each customer back to cancel the appointments after a last-minute decision Friday to reverse course.

“We wanted to go against this, today, but there’s too much pressure; this is bigger than our small shop,” said Chris Cifelli, the shop’s manager. “If this continues, there won’t be a Media; this town is all small businesses.”

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