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How nail salons in Holland reopened during the pandemic

Tracy Anne Shelverton

It was through the efforts of an industry collective spearheaded by Tracy Anne Shelverton of Gorge Nails that the Dutch government allowed nail salons to reopen as from 11 May, on condition they adhere to a strict new protocol.

This was revealed by Shelverton during a Professional Beauty online webinar held last week, which also featured South African industry expert, Sonette van Rensburg.

Said Shelverton: “When COVID-19 first arrived in Holland in March, nail salons were instantaneously shut down by the government. I was listening to the prime minister about what was required to get Holland up and running again, and I realised that they needed a protocol from all corners of the nail industry. Even before the prime minister had finished talking, I was already sitting at my computer creating a groundwork for what could potentially be a protocol for the nail industry. But when I finished it, I realised that this wasn’t a job I could do by myself. So I put a cry out for help on Facebook, which was heeded. With a team of 12 other industry professionals, we started to create an official protocol for nail techs in Holland post lockdown.”

During the webinar, Van Rensburg asked Shelverton about the biggest challenges she faced in drawing up the new protocol. Shelverton responded: “While it was easy to get colleagues to volunteer to help, it was challenging to get all these diverse companies to work with each other for the same goal, without being paid and without promoting any of their products. We had to try and be completely neutral.”

She noted that the hygiene & safety protocol drawn up by the industry collective is quite broad in that it includes mobile nail techs, home-based nail techs and training centres. The protocol also had to compensate for the 1.5 metres social distancing rule that can’t be achieved between client and nail tech during a service.

“Our minimum requirement then was to protect the client,” explained Shelverton. “To do this, we had to act as if we had the virus ourselves. In addition, we ourselves had to be protected from the clients. While nail techs wore masks in the past, it was to protect us from salon dust. But now wearing a mask – preferably either a FFP 2 or FFP 3 mask – is to protect others from us. Similarly, clients must wear a 3-layer mask to protect us. We must also wear eye protection – such as safety goggles from a builder’s store, as the eyes are an entry point for this virus. Clients must not wear any jewelry, neither must they have the mobile phones with them. There is also the need for questionnaires for clients with questions about whether they have been sick, or been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, etc. Temperature readings should be done as well.

“With all the talk about masks, suddenly Perspex screens popped up all over the place. We discussed the efficacy of screens at length and came to the conclusion that they are absolutely effective for the normal spitting that comes out of your mouth when you talk. But it won’t necessarily protect you from something in the air that’s moving around in your salon. Dust is a problem as it may attach itself to the screen. So the screen has to be cleaned thoroughly, before and after each client. It is also imperative to have a dust extraction system in the salon.”

Shelverton emphasised the importance of washing with soap and water – on your hands, the client’s hands, and on all work surfaces in the salon, as well as floors, door handles and the clients’ chairs. “We know this virus doesn’t like soap and water, which kills 90% of pathogens before you use any other kind of products, such as sanitisers. All of this constant cleaning and sanitising makes working in the salon more complex, and takes longer between clients. Also, everyone’s budget is different so we had to make the hygiene protocol work for everyone by finding good but cost effective solutions. You really do have to act like this virus is a mean, evil creature, because it is. And it helps if you can convince clients that these steps need to be taken.”

Van Rensburg pointed out that nail salons need to operate differently in the post lockdown era. She said: “We can no longer have the sausage factory method of running clients. Salons now need to schedule intervals between clients to give techs enough time to make sure that everything is properly cleaned, disinfected and sterilised. A lot of planning and consideration by salon owners and managers is needed.”

Referencing her own salon, Shelverton said that only clients who have appointments will be admitted into the salon and they are emailed a copy of the hygiene & safety protocol the day before their appointment.

In conclusion, Van Rensburg emphasised that each nail tech must have their own set of equipment, preferably two sets of tools, so that they can be fully cleaned and disinfected between clients. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)

To view the full Professional Beauty webinar click here.

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