Self-employed El Pasoans struggle amid COVID-19 pandemic

Self-employed El Pasoans struggle amid COVID-19 pandemic

Andres Moreno

In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases in El Paso have gone up again. As restrictions began to be lowered, many people started to go out again resulting in El Paso being put back in square one.

In efforts to curb the case spike, government officials have set more restrictions in place. One of these restrictions was to shut down “non-essential” businesses. These include barbershops, nail salons, gyms, etc.

While many people agree with this decision, and it may seem part of the obvious solution, there is another side to the spectrum. Some workers in these kinds of businesses are now without a job and may not benefit from unemployment benefits like others do.

Many of these employees are self-employed, which can make it tough to make ends meet. A lot of the workers have already admitted to days being slow during the pandemic, but some are completely out of work.

Jordan Gamez, a young barber whose business was barely taking off before the pandemic, says he’s having to work extra hard with all the limitations set in place. He spoke to The Growler about what it is like to be living self-employed amidst a pandemic:

Q: How has non-essential businesses closing affected you?

A: I have had to resort to other methods to bring income in since I can’t be cutting up anymore.

Q: What other methods of bringing in income are you using?

A: I sell retail items,jewelry, anything really that will make me money and most recently Christmas trees.

Q: What is your stance on non-essential business closing?

I believe it is pretty unnecessary, since we take all the safety precautions, and people are willing to come at their own risk.

Q: Have you lost or gained clientele during the pandemic?

A: I didn’t lose clients, but bookings definitely got slower since this all began.

Q: What safety measures do you take when taking in customers?

A: I sanitize my chair, hands and tools, and never take my mask off. I also change my gloves each time I take in a client.