This letter to the editor was submitted to LebTown. Read our submission policy here.

Greetings,

Anthony’s Hairstyling (110 South 9th Street, Lebanon) has decided not to re-open on May 15. I am not happy about it. I have owned and operated Anthony’s in the City of Lebanon for 43 years. And I just happen to work in an industry with one of the highest risks in transmission of the COVID-19 virus (barber shops).

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(Editor’s Note: As previously reported, barber shops are not included in yellow phase reopening criteria as set by the state. See more information on the phases here. However, according to DA Pier Hess Graf’s Friday letter, the standard of legal action for the DA’s office would be the April 15 order, which does not specifically highlight salons or barber shops.)

I have never before been threatened by the State of Pennsylvania to have my liability insurance and essential operating licenses taken from me. District Attorney Pier Hess Graf’s order has put Lebanon County business owners on the front line to defend not only their ability to carry liability insurance and essential operating licenses, or otherwise face financial penalties, but also their actual lives and the lives of others as well. And to add to the confusion, two days after the letter to formally defy the Pennsylvania State of Emergency order, Pier Hess Graf in another letter updated Lebanon County business owners that “Wolf’s actions misguided, but consequences possible.”

Read More: [Letter] DA Hess Graf: Wolf’s actions misguided, but consequences possible

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Where is the guidance. Did we know of those consequences before we decided to defy this order? I do not like to play Russian roulette. And it changes the meaning of a competitive business world. Very unfair to those who decide to obey the Pennsylvania State of Emergency Order. I am pissed.

Fast forward. When Anthony’s opens, the opening will be official. On the same God-given official date according to the State Emergency Order, I will put up a sign. Anthony’s, along with other business owners who can lead, will jump start a waning quality. “Responsibility.” In other words, “Doing the right thing.” Along with re-opening comes the most important task. The compliance with all state COVID-19 safety measures. That includes comprehensive reporting of violators, and prompt enforcement.

Whether we like it or not, District Attorney Pier Hess Graf has put Lebanon County in the center of the controversial issue of individual counties who defy State of Emergency Orders. There will be business owners who think because they are defying the state’s yellow timetable, they now can dictate their own safety guidelines and the buck stops on their dime. And, personally, I do not want this decision to backfire on Lebanon County.

Anyone entering Anthony’s unequipped with a mask will be given one at no charge. In the event they may be protesting that their rights let them do what they want to, and will not wear one, Anthony’s will show them the door. All employees will always wear a mask, and so will everyone else in the building, The only exception will be a given client who is in the process of a service. And that, will be of their own choosing. Anthony’s will be offering a free forehead thermometer scan while also flipping the floor plan, enabling the waiting room to comprise what just last month was a spacious work area. Given the mandated 6′ separation, all services will take place in a separate fully-equipped duly licensed adjacent room that is restricted to no more than two persons at a time. That is a lot to get together in a week. Glad I do not have childcare issues.

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Note: These words are not from a former Lebanon City Council Member or just an innocent bystander. They are from the heart of the owner of a small business getting ready to enter its 44th year. It’s killing me too. But, I will do what I must not to let COVID-19 kill me.

Tony Matula
Lebanon, PA

Tony Matula is a former Lebanon City Councilman and owner of Anthony’s Hair Styling in Lebanon.

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