ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Board of Cosmetology late Tuesday, March 18, announced that hair salons, nail salons and spa facilities would be asked to immediately close their doors due to the coronavirus.

The board said salons and spas were included under an executive order issued on Monday calling on restaurants and bars to close their dine-in services and for gyms, theaters and other facilities where large numbers of people can congregate to shutter until at least March 27 or face fees and potential imprisonment.

And it said cosmetology schools should work with the state to set up alternative learning plans to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, the disease that stems from coronavirus.

"Please do what you can to prioritize the health and safety of students and clients," the board said in a statement on its website. "We are in conversation with the Governor’s Office and other relevant parties about solutions to the challenges that the COVID-19 situation presents."

Some salons and spas had closed or restricted services ahead of the announcement. The news came a day before the Minnesota Department of Health reported 77 cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota and said its testing abilities were limited.

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Salon owners said they were notified of the board's decision Tuesday night, hours after they were supposed to have closed their doors to customers. And they continued to have clients call in to try and get appointments, though salons owners had already shut down.

"I think it's stressful just because we didn’t get notice," Andrea Lien, a stylist at Rejuv' Salon and Spa in Crookston, said. "We just feel bad, we’re trying to do the best we can for people."

Minnesota's K-12 schools were set to close Wednesday, March 18, for all but elementary-aged children of health care workers and first responders. And the University of Minnesota this week said it would push all instruction online for the remainder of the semester out of concern about spreading COVID-19.

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