Time for a trim? Not yet say St Albans hairdressers shut by COVID-19 restrictions
- Credit: Archant
Would you have ever imagined having to wait over three months for a haircut? Prior to the deadly COVID-19 virus shutdown it would have been inconceivable, but weeks later roots are showing and people are desperate to fix the consequences of home clipping experiments.
But despite being a small concerns in comparison to so many other consequences of the pandemic, this issue has not stopped being important to St Albans residents.
This newspaper spoke to three St Albans hairdressers about when they can open, PPE and how the virus has affected their industry.
Hairdressers are among the last of the country’s high street traders to be allowed to open, as they fall under the hospitality category of business which is part of the last phase to return to ‘normality’.
Lead educator for Wahl UK and owner of Alternative Barbering Co Sam Campagna has received increasing requests from people to breach the social distancing measures and offer them a trim.
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But he has refused to do so and feels very strongly about the need to support the government’s guidelines: “Lots of people are asking us to do their hair now.
“People regard it as a simple necessity - it’s an easily accessible, low cost, have it whenever you want.”
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He added: “I don’t blame them for asking but we are living in a pandemic. Emotions have to be matched with logic.
“Any person who relies on their business for their income doesn’t want to close but it would be detrimental to my professional integrity if I had carried on cutting hair in the lockdown.”
Marc Trinder of Trinder and Stacey Harris of Prestige Medical Beauty say they have also been asked to break Boris’ rules and provide hair cuts and colour treatments.
But both businesses remain closed and have not succumbed to pressure from the public.
Sam explained that in England hairdressers are categorised under hospitality as opposed to retail in other countries where they could open earlier.
All three establishments are working towards a July 4 opening which is in the guidelines set out by government for salons.
Owners are unsure as to whether PPE will be a necessity but say they have prepared for it. They said they have bought screens, hand-sanitiser, wipes and masks, but at the moment the general consensus is that they just don’t know whether PPE will be part of the government requirements.
Sam said: “If we had to wear PPE there would be a mental strain on keeping that in check as well as making for cleaning - a massive loss of time and income.”
He would open now if the government said it was allowed - with the guidelines in place - but thinks it should be a decision that is up to the individual retailer or customer: “I think it is pointless holding back an industry given that other sectors have the same or similar risk-factor.”
Stacey agrees. She said the whole situation is very unclear and she feels hairdressers could have returned sooner: “Retail is surely far worse for spreading the virus, with people touching things.
“We can sterilise our rooms in between clients.”
Sam thinks prices will go up due to the loss of time spent cleaning. He has calculated 20p per minute loss due to COVID-19.
Marc said he is frustrated they cannot open until July but understands why: “We want to get back to work but we want everyone to be safe. We do have PPE - even if the government say we do not need it, we owe it to our customers if it helps them to feel safer.”
All salons have made use of the staff furloughing scheme which they say helps with the loss of income.
Marc added: “We will have to adapt business accordingly. We are lucky to be alive and lucky to have our health.
“We plan to go from being open five to seven days a week to maximise our capacity.
“Obviously we dont want to put our prices up but as an independent business we have to look at the additional overheads.
“I know hair is very important to people and we have put together videos and tutorials to help people get through until salons are open again. A lot of people are saying their hair is actually alright but they miss the interaction - it is an intimate service where people can talk and offload as well as leave with more spring in their step.”
He added that the new experience will be very different for customers and a lot of the ‘pampering’ feel will not be there - so no drinks, no chats and no magazines.