'It just hurts my heart': Salon owner at risk of losing business and home amid COVID-19 shutdown

Posted at 10:59 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 01:36:01-04

ARVADA, Colo. — Two empty chairs sit in a quiet, 400-square foot salon in Arvada. They will remain empty until Governor Jared Polis lifts his public health order calling for all non-essential businesses to close as the novel coronavirus rapidly spread across the state.

"I cannot go five weeks without an income. I have to have a job," said business owner Jan Fortarel.

Last week, Governor Polis made the decision to close barbershops and salons, forcing Fortarel to close down the salon she's run from her home for 20 years.

"I see one client at a time only," Fortarel said of her small business.

Because of the size of her clientele, she doesn't believe the she should have to close.

"Every salon is not the same and there needs to be a distinction between the salons," she argued.

J Fortarel is located in section of Fortarel's home basement. Without her main source of income, she is forced to look for a job or risk losing her business and her house.

"I’ve put in applications everywhere, which is going to put me at risk for exposure to COVID [19]", Fortarel said.

In her 60s and a recent cardiac patient, Fortarel is considered high-risk for contracting the disease.

"I’m much safer in J Fortarel salon than I am in the general public," Fortarel explained.

Maybe the worst part is saying goodbye, at least for now, to clients she's known for decades.

"It’s so upsetting and it’s devastating. I have to take a deep breath and literally say a prayer, and say, 'God will get me through it.' Then make the call and say, 'Sorry, you are canceled," Fortarel said, fighting back tears.