Pennsylvania COVID-19 State Update for Cosmetologists

There have been many changes in the cosmetology industry and community in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), from executive orders affecting businesses to distance learning modifying the student experience. ASCP, AHP, and ANP have summarized below how COVID-19 has impacted the licensing regulations and laws in the state of Pennsylvania. We encourage you to pay special attention to the CARES Act outlined at the bottom of this email, which addresses financial aid and unemployment benefits and programs.

Prohibition of Practice
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order that ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations on March 19, 2020, through April 30, 2020, in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19. View a more detailed chart of life-sustaining businesses.

Pursuant to this list of “life-sustaining businesses,” personal services are to be closed at this point. This includes barbershops, nail salons, beauty salons, and gyms. All individuals licensed by the Pennsylvania Board of Cosmetology or the Board of Barber Examiners should not be practicing at this time.

ASCP, AHP, and ANP update members daily regarding COVID-19 and how it’s impacting businesses, and legislative and regulatory changes. Check in with us to stay in the know about Pennsylvania updates. In addition, the most current information regarding what is happening in Pennsylvania can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of State website. Please also be sure to check with your local city or county to see if they have closure orders that are stricter than the state orders.

License Renewals
Many states are coming online at this point to discuss how to handle license renewals. Some states allow for some, if not all, continuing education requirements to be completed online, and others are allowing licensees to renew three months later or by the end of the year. We have not yet received guidance from Pennsylvania. If you hear of anything, please let us know by emailing In the meantime, we will continue to monitor this.

Cosmetology and Barbering Schools
Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to extend temporary student licenses. As of March 26, 2020, any temporary permits issued to those waiting to take the cosmetologist or barber examination that would expire in the next 90 days will be extended an additional 90 days.

Furthermore, cosmetology schools that must issue quarterly reports no longer need a notarization to submit the reports for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition, Governor Wolf granted two waivers regarding examinations and education hours. Any barbering student who failed to take the barber exam within one year or who failed parts of the exam during the time period of the COVID-19 emergency will have one year from the time the emergency ends to take the pertinent portions of the exam again.

Also, there is now a cosmetology waiver for applicants who have a limited license and are required to complete the 1,250 hours of education within four years, in addition to the requirement that students complete their cosmetology education within four years. In both instances, they are allowed an additional year from the end of the COVID-19 emergency to complete their programs.

On March 27, 2020, it was announced that Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion deal to provide economic relief to those most affected by COVID-19. The CARES act expands unemployment to part-time employees and self-employed cosmetologists—workers who have not historically been eligible for unemployment compensation.

The onboarding process of everything announced in the CARES Act is much slower than was initially thought and planned. The overwhelming numbers of applicants and government agencies that are trying to come up with new processes are slowing systems down that were not ready for the sheer volume of people contacting them. As a result, please be patient; they are all trying, and we encourage you to keep checking back for unemployment updates and information regarding loans you are trying to obtain through the Small Business Administration (SBA).  

Learn how to apply for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania allows for unemployment benefits up to a maximum of $572 per week; however, not everyone will qualify for this amount. In addition, the federal government will be issuing $600 per week through July 31, 2020, via the CARES Act. To help provide extra relief during this crisis, benefits have been expanded in Pennsylvania to 39 weeks.

There are glitches in almost every state. For the self-employed, we have heard that one must first apply for regular unemployment and be denied before they can apply for pandemic unemployment. Most states are continuing to wait for guidance from the federal government—only a few are already online with unemployment benefits for the self-employed. As such, if you apply, be patient and work with the state to prove your claim.

While states across the country are slowly starting to amend requirements to look for work while unemployed and to bring unemployment benefits for the self-employed onboard, our recent review of the Pennsylvania state unemployment website shows that they have not yet updated the process for COVID-19 claims for the self-employed. The best advice we’ve heard on this issue is to check the state unemployment page frequently.

In addition to unemployment benefits, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has two financial relief options you may also consider: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Refer to ABMP’s Financial Benefits blog post that outlines the info on these programs to help you make an informed decision on which one is best for you and your situation. The blog has information about tax credits, tax deadline extensions, and health insurance.  NOTE: the blog post is a work in progress and is modified when new information is obtained.

Please let us know if you hear of any updates to the closure orders or if you have information about the unemployment application process by emailing us at We appreciate your membership. Stay safe and well.


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