On Saturday morning a presentation was made to the government by shopping mall/centres owners concerning the reopening of businesses within their facilities. They wanted to include in this presentation, a motivation for the hair and beauty industry for consideration as to how and when salons could reopen. As is often the case during difficult times, this was at very short notice. Apparently, the current thinking in government is that we would only be allowed to open in late June or July.
An online meeting was urgently arranged for as many people as could be contacted on a Friday evening for a 7pm meeting. Some 300+ attendees joined the meeting representing a broad range of stakeholders from salon owners, salon groups, suppliers, manufactures, the bargaining council, SAAHSP and also Professional Beauty/Salon International.
As we all know, the big problem is that the sector involves touch, a major part of the transmission of the virus.
The presentation gave an overview of methods to maintain strict health and safety protocols for both the therapist/stylist and clients such as protective gear, social distancing etc.
Various additional suggestions were made by attendees for therapists protection, from visors to Perspex screens of the kind now seen in many supermarket till areas. Additional training and SOPS were also a hot topics. The opening up of any salons would of course be at the discretion of the owner and no staff member should be forced to work.
Also included was information on the size of the industry, from turnover to the number of employees within the sector and the economic contribution we make to GDP.
The attendees were asked to show if they were for or against. There were one or two people who were against, however the overwhelming majority were in favour of some sort of relaxation of control in our sector. Those who objected had major concerns for the health and safety of staff and clients and this is of course understandable, however, the majority felt that with the correct systems in place, the risk of infection could be managed.
If this presentation does not achieve the required result, hopefully it will at least raise awareness of our sector within government and what we do, both for people and the economy.
The most important thing about this whole process is to ensure that whatever steps are taken that the industry gains the confidence of the clients so that they feel safe in coming back to salons. Before lockdown, clients were cancelling appointments in droves. We do need to ensure clients feel safe and comfortable in our care. (Report by Phil Woods).