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Dealing with lockdown bare essentials

Landlords and rent, as well as salons’ and spas’ state of operational readiness to open post COVID-19 lockdown were some of the topics discussed during Professional Beauty’s live webinar on 30 April.

Panelists included Dermalogica SA chairperson Cherie Ten Hope, legal consultant Bronwyn Young, Twincare International CEO Stave Dimitriadis, Professional Beauty’s commercial director, Phil Woods, and Marisa Dimitriadis of The Spa Consultants.

Said Stav Dimitriadis, who was one of the industry stakeholders involved in making a presentation to government last week regarding the possible opening date for salons and spas: “This situation that we find ourselves in is real – people are dying, people are panicking, etc. However, if you accept that the situation is real and that it’s not your fault, it liberates you, which is a good thing as we need to be realistic.

“Regarding the industry submission to government, not for one second are we saying that we want to put our customers or consumers at risk. What we wanted to achieve is to get government to understand our industry. We may touch people during our treatment services, but as an industry we already have certain hygiene, sanitation and safety protocols in place. Hairdressing and beauty salons do touch more than shop assistants and supermarkets, but we do sanitise more than them. So, we wanted to present our case to government and leave it up to them to decide when salons and spas can open their doors and we will abide by their decision. I must make it clear that no salon will be forced to open.”

Cherie Ten Hope added: “The fact that the industry was actually acknowledged by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her address is great. As an industry, we have to look at what is the science of the virus and the science behind not spreading it. We have a deep responsibility not to spread the virus, but we also have a deep responsibility to keep our salons going and performing treatments on clients who want them.

“The challenge for all of us is that there is so much uncertainty at the moment. But it’s important for the industry to have a united front. We need to have standard SOPs and we need to show that to government. The thing is that not everyone in the industry will agree on the SOPs.”

Landlords and rent

During the Professional Beauty live webinar a question regarding how to deal with landlords and rent during lockdown was raised.

Said Dimitriadis: “When you initially approach the landlord of a shopping mall, they will tell you the footfall that the mall attracts as a selling point. So, you sign a lease based on this high footfall and now circumstances have changed due to the lockdown, and suddenly they don’t have the same number of feet coming through their doors. So, we need to find a fair way to get landlords to come to the table. In the past landlords have had a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude but retailers cannot take the lockdown pain alone. So, landlords need to reduce their rent during this time.”

Ten Hope added: “We are all in the service industry so it’s about negotiation. Your relationship with your landlord needs to have a partnership approach – perhaps you could negotiate deferred rentals over a period of six months.”

Industry’s operational readiness

Another question raised during the live webinar related to whether the beauty industry would be ready to return to work from an operational perspective once lockdown ends.

Dimitriadis was of the opinion that all salon hygiene issues boil down to common sense. “After six weeks your salon won’t have the virus so I think just give your salon a normal thorough cleanse,” he stated. “Rather focus on things that will reduce transmission – wear masks, gloves and glasses and / or visors. We are not going to wear hazmat suits and spray clients down. Just raise your hygiene protocols according to government regulations. Each salon will need to appoint a ‘safety officer’ and have its hygiene protocols in writing but I don’t think that you should over complicate things.”

Ten Hope does not believe that the industry is ready in terms of its professionals knowing everything there is to know about COVID-19 preventative measures, nor has it drawn up the relevant and required SOPs.

She continued: “Knowledge is power but there is so much information out there at the moment that there is often a misinterpretation. We have to have trained staff before opening our salons and have proof of this. I think we need to review our hygiene protocols and see whether it’s relevant to the times of today. We need to step up and develop our own standards. But how will we all get to agree on an industry standard? We’ve never had one before. Yet we need to define the standard for hand, nail and skin. This is all about the industry helping each other and working together.”

To view the Professional Beauty webinar click here

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