Sa­lons in limbo af­ter fail­ing to make cut

While hair­dressers wel­comed ‘Su­per Satur­day’, beauty firms made clear their frus­tra­tions at be­ing out in the cold, writes Han­nah Ut­t­ley

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business -

Ther­a­pist Michelle Ger­aghtyCarns has al­ways prided her­self on pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with a calm and re­lax­ing at­mos­phere at her clinic Eter­nalBe­ing in En­derby, Le­ices­ter­shire. Now, she says, the clinic, which pro­vides a range of treat­ments for al­ler­gies and in­tol­er­ances, looks and feels more like a hos­pi­tal.

Nail bars, beauty sa­lons, spas and busi­nesses pro­vid­ing com­ple­men­tary ther­a­pies were among those which were barred from re­open­ing on “Su­per Satur­day”, but have con­tin­ued to plough on with prepa­ra­tions.

Ger­aghty-Carns says she has shelled out around £7,000 on health and safety equip­ment to pre­pare for re­open­ing, not to men­tion the £38,000 cost for a re­fur­bish­ment of the clinic to en­sure staff and cus­tomers can dis­tance safely. “We’ve lost two treat­ment rooms be­cause of that,” she ex­plains. “Every­thing is hos­pi­tal grade so our clinic rooms now look like you’re walk­ing into an op­er­at­ing theatre.”

Cus­tomers vis­it­ing the clinic will be re­quired to com­plete a Covid-19 pre­treat­ment ques­tion­naire be­fore they ar­rive and will not be able to ar­rive early for an ap­point­ment.

“If they do, they will need to wait in the car,” Ger­aghtyCarns says. “Some­times in the past, clients ar­rived half an hour early for an ap­point­ment but we don’t have that lux­ury any­more. We’ve got rid of the re­cep­tion area where they could sit and have a nice herbal tea and re­lax.”

Cus­tomers vis­it­ing hair­dressers for the first time in over three months on Satur­day were also faced with an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

Hair­dressers have re­ported wait­ing lists en­ter­ing the thou­sands as cus­tomers race to be first in line to have their un­ruly locks tamed.

Blow, a mo­bile beauty busi­ness, says it has hired more than 100 hair colourists to meet de­mand.

Due to hy­giene rea­sons, cus­tomers will no longer be of­fered a com­pli­men­tary bev­er­age or mag­a­zine at many sa­lons, and wait­ing ar­eas will re­main empty to en­sure com­pli­ance with so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules.

Plas­tic screens have been put in place at hair wash­ing sta­tions to sep­a­rate cus­tomers, and stylists are wear­ing face masks and vi­sors, with cus­tomers also en­cour­aged to wear face cov­er­ings.

In some cases, sa­lons have been en­cour­aged to use sin­gle-use tow­els or wash them at a high tem­per­a­ture where this is not an op­tion.

L’Oreal has put to­gether hy­giene and safety train­ing, and back-to­busi­ness guides for hair­dressers to sup­port the in­dus­try. Hair­dress­ing is the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to the Bri­tish beauty in­dus­try and was worth around £6bn to the econ­omy last year.

Béa­trice Dautzen­berg, UK and Ire­land man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of L’Oreal’s pro­fes­sional prod­ucts di­vi­sion, says: “The re­silience and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit we’ve seen among Bri­tish hair­dressers dur­ing the cri­sis has been very im­pres­sive.

“For ex­am­ple, more than 40pc of sa­lons are choos­ing to ex­tend their open­ing hours so that they can ac­com­mo­date the same num­ber of cus­tomers but with the right safety mea­sures in place. We know that there is a strong ap­petite for con­sumers to have ac­cess to this ser­vice out­side of the standard open­ing hours, so Covid-19 might ac­tu­ally ac­cel­er­ate some of these trends.”

Some other busi­nesses which rely on phys­i­cal con­tact, such as phys­io­ther­a­pists and os­teopaths, were not pre­vented from shut­ting in lock­down, though many chose to close out of fear for the safety of staff and clients. One os­teopath prac­ti­tioner says she has been forced to mod­ify some of the treat­ment tech­niques to avoid be­ing face to face with pa­tients, while any linen or tow­els have been re­moved from treat­ment beds.

Strin­gent hand­wash­ing is also manda­tory, while ther­a­pists wear full PPE, in­clud­ing gloves, where the pa­tient re­quests it.

She says a shift to work­ing from home in lock­down has seen de­mand for ser­vices such as os­teopa­thy surge, forc­ing many clin­ics to op­er­ate longer hours. “De­mand has been off the scale,” she says. “We have wait­ing lists every day; it’s been re­ally busy par­tic­u­larly be­cause no­body was pre­pared to work from home full-time as they did not have lap­top ris­ers or the right chair. I’ve been giv­ing a lot of ad­vice around that.”

While the pan­demic has de­liv­ered some ma­jor chal­lenges for busi­nesses which rely on phys­i­cal

‘Every­thing is hos­pi­tal grade so our clinic rooms now look like you’re walk­ing into an op­er­at­ing theatre’

con­tact, it has pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for oth­ers. Alex Collinson’s busi­ness, Pod, was one of the few mas­sage stu­dios al­lowed to open its doors to cus­tomers on Satur­day and has been recog­nised as the only Covid-19 se­cure busi­ness of its kind by Brighton and Hove City Coun­cil.

Us­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy in mas­sage chairs, Collinson says she and her busi­ness part­ner have cre­ated an ex­pe­ri­ence that is re­lax­ing and en­joy­able, while be­ing en­tirely con­tact-free.

The ser­vice was due to open in Fe­bru­ary but was de­layed by dif­fi­cul­ties in ob­tain­ing equip­ment from China, the epi­cen­tre of the out­break. Collinson’s busi­ness al­lows cus­tomers to book ap­point­ments di­rectly but she also has chairs that can be hired by other com­pa­nies which may not be able to op­er­ate as usual due to so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

“There is an op­por­tu­nity for us to part­ner with other or­gan­i­sa­tions that don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to stop do­ing hands-on con­tact but it would be a po­ten­tial way for them to fu­ture-proof their busi­ness,” she says.

Beau­ti­cians have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at be­ing left out of the Gov­ern­ment’s Su­per Satur­day re­open­ing and con­tinue to await clar­ity as to when they will be able to take ap­point­ments.

Lianne Ris­poli, who owns Bel­la­tique Stu­dio, a beauty sa­lon in St Al­bans, ar­gues that the Gov­ern­ment does not recog­nise the high level of hy­giene stan­dards within the in­dus­try.

She says cus­tomers will be banned from us­ing mo­bile phones in the sa­lon when it reopens, and all staff will wear masks and vi­sors.

For treat­ments which are usu­ally car­ried out face to face, such as man­i­cures, beau­ti­cians will sit side-on to the cus­tomer.

“What we have to do is so vig­or­ous, I don’t think you could be in a cleaner place,” she says. “I think vis­it­ing a sa­lon would be safer than go­ing to a pub or a su­per­mar­ket.”

Hair­dressers wear vi­sors at Cam­bridge Bar­ber­shop on Belfast’s Lis­burn Road, with sim­i­lar safety mea­sures in place at the city’s Bel­laire beauty sa­lon, be­low

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