Hair stylists are concerned for their health, their clients, and their businesses after last night’s stunning announcement that salons and barbershops must adhere to strict new guidelines amid Australia’s coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
In a whirlwind press conference last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced salons will be forced to serve clients for no more than half an hour at a stretch, and must enforce at least four square metres of floor space for every person in the premises.
That’s on top of the official advice regarding social distancing, which ask that Australians keep at least 1.5 metres between themselves and the nearest person.
The new guidelines come into force from midnight tonight.
The move was intended to strike a balance between public safety amid a pandemic and the Federal Government’s wish for small businesses to operate as long as they can during unprecedented industry shutdowns.
But, like many other aspects of the announcement, the news has been met with confusion and concern. Hair stylists are now contending with a new and fraught business landscape.
PEDESTRIAN.TV understands some hair stylists who focus on colour treatments are now mixing dyes for clients to apply at home, in an attempt to work around the impending half-hour time limit.
“How can any hair appointment service be less then 30 minutes?,” wrote one commenter on the Facebook page of Hair Stylists Australia, a trade union representing hair professionals.
“You obviously can’t do colours,” wrote another. “Cuts only. Or save your dignity and your health and shut the door until it’s over.”
Facebook users have also questioned whether it is possible to send clients outside for a brief period during the session, allowing them back into the salon to “reset” the half-hour timer.
“Pop outside for a bit, sanitise work area while client is out and then continue this process for the duration of the appointment?” one commenter suggested.
“Frustrating and very unprofessional but we are in uncharted territory.”
There are also concerns that the rule favours men, or clients whose hair doesn’t necessarily take half an hour to cut and style.
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Morrison has drawn ire from industry professionals who believe that allowing hair salons to remain open, while other beauty therapy centres are forced to close, needlessly exposes hair stylists and barbers to customers who may be infected with the virus.
Speaking to News.com.au, Sandy Chong, CEO of The Australian Hairdressing Council, said the group is “outraged that the government is putting our hairdressers and our community at risk by keeping us open” during the pandemic.
Despite the potential health risks and a downturn in business, some hair professionals are trying to see the positives of the situation.
“The box dye fixes that we will have to deal with after this scares the crap out of me,” one commenter wrote.
PEDESTRIAN.TV has contacted Hair Stylists Australia for comment.
If you think you may have coronavirus, either call your doctor (DON’T visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you’re struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.