Joe Guerra outside his barbershop on 25th Street. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

Thirty-year-old Joe Guerra was grateful to be back cutting hair at The Mission’s Barbershop on 25th Street near Mission Street. Born and raised in the neighborhood, Guerra has been a barber for 13 years and has had his own shop for two years.

Guerra began cutting hair when his uncle came home from prison. He wanted a haircut, and Guerra tried but failed.  “Ever since that day, I told myself I was going to learn how to cut hair, you know, to cut his hair again,” said Guerra. But he never got the opportunity, as his uncle soon passed away. “But I used that as fuel and ran with it, and it got me here.”

Guerra still lives in the Mission, where he is raising his 13-year-old son and his 6-year-old daughter.  The pandemic forced Guerra to shut down his shop, and life became “a whole lot more stressful.” In April, Guerra resorted to creating The Mission’s Barbershop Relief Fund and raised $1,300 to help pay his bills. “Thankfully, we’re surviving,” says Guerra, who reopened in September. “It definitely feels good to be doing something again instead of being home.” 

Guerra sees cutting hair both as a job and a way of contributing to his community. To that end, he keeps the barbershop old-school ‘Frisco style to reinforce his loyalty to the neighborhood. “The fact that I could be here in my neighborhood and do what I’m doing and give back, you know, even if it’s just one haircut at a time … there is a value to me, you know, just the fact that you can cater to the same neighborhood that I have embraced the whole life.” 

As Mission Local concluded the interview, a mom and her son arrived. “Only one of you can come in,’ Guerrero said. That is life in a pandemic. 

“It’s been  struggle,” Guerra said, before starting the cut. “but I am trying to keep the doors open, one way or another. I plan to cut hair up until I can’t cut hair no more.” 

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Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys working at the intersection of art and politics, and focusing on the stories of individuals to reveal larger themes.

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  1. Well looks like he’s screwed again and has to close even though there is no evidence that cutting a persons hair for half an hour while they wear a mask has caused cases. Disgraceful.

    1. Here’s a headline from Mission Local:”Latinx frontline workers continue to show Covid-19 rates”.

      What do you think should change to stop the virus transmission?

      1. You didn’t ask me, but I will bite.

        – Close indoor dining. That was a huge source of the spread.

        – Restrict travel. Close the airport. For as long as people are traveling between here and the midwest, nothing is going to change — and the rising cases in places like the Presidio sure seem more about that, than Mission barbershops.

        – Close major highways outside the Bay Area to passenger traffic. If someone needs to go through, they can take the long way around, everyone else can reconsider.

        – Hey, as a bonus, realize that abstinence-only messaging doesn’t work. Encourage people to see their relatives … outside, with masks, instead of saying “don’t” and driving gatherings indoors. If a strategy doesn’t work on keeping teens from drugs and sex, it is not going to keep people from seeing grandma — and it clearly hasn’t during Thanksgiving. Get them to do it safely.

        Again, fundamentally, we have seen that outdoor dining and barbershops are not dangerous. No infections have been traced to that. (In fact, a contact trace study in Georgia found that infected hairdressers infected none of their customers, but it was a very small sample size). Unless the city releases data showing otherwise, it is hard not to wonder if everything is being closed down just to get people to take things seriously. I don’t think that is working great either, the public’s trust is clearly eroding.

        There are other ways to do that, ones that actually align with science. That will probably have more buy-in and more people actually doing the right thing.

        But hey, a mayor who traveled through multiple counties to dine indoors at a $400 a plate dinner is sure qualified to judge this.

        1. Why not barber shops cutting outdoors? On the sidewalk or in a parking spot?

          And outdoor dining -ok, but once I start drinking with my meal my judgement can get a little funny. How many restaurants would be willing to serve outdoors but with no alcohol consumed?

        2. This should be sent to all the political leaders making these decisions. Your point about abstinence only education is spot-on, as is the point about travel abs riding cases in the presidio. Common sense is so uncommon with SF’s political leadership!