Hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from 4 July – and clearly it’s not a moment too soon for thousands of customers desperate for a trim.
“We’ve built up a waiting list of more than 2,000 people,” said Katya Davies, who runs four Myla and Davis hairdressers in south London.
Amid mounting speculation that the lockdown would be eased for large swathes of the service sector, Ms Davies opened her appointment book a couple of weeks ago.
July is already looking full, she said, and there’s now a big rush to get the salons ready in time. They will open an extra four hours each day to cope with demand.
“We can’t wait to get back to work and we’ve planned our reopening schedule around the 2m distancing rule. We don’t plan to change that, although the switch to 1m-plus will ease the burden a little,” she said.
“Our salons will be able to work at around 65% capacity although wearing visors will be quite cumbersome and bring its own problems, especially for the comfort of our workers who will be dealing with clients back-to-back.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson anticipated the huge demand for a haircut when he announced the easing of the lockdown after more than three months
He said: “Almost as eagerly awaited as a pint will be a haircut, particularly by me, and so we will reopen hairdressers with appropriate precautions, including the use of visors.”
The details of the new guidelines are expected to be announced soon, but are expected to include use of protective screens and an increase in handwashing facilities.
“We’ve already had lots of texts and calls from customers excited to be able to return to the saloon,” said Dale Hollinshead, who runs Hazel & Haydn, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
“It’s been a long lockdown for all of us,” he said. His salon has two floors, which makes social distancing a little easier to deal with, he reckons.
“We’ve been busy preparing the salon for opening in the last few weeks and have put plastic screens in place and have floor markings that are ready to go down.
“We have a range of plastic visors and face masks for staff and will do whatever else the guidelines require to ensure everyone is safe.”
The salon will extend opening hours from 8am to 8pm when it reopens on 4 July, and stylists will work shifts in teams to reduce the number of people that customers come into contact with.
“We’re really looking forward to getting back to business,” Mr Hollinshead said.
Embracing the new normal
“We’re very pleased about the news that we can finally reopen,” said Belle Cannan, co-founder of Salon Sloane in London’s Chelsea. “We all want to get back to work and our clients are excited to see us.”
She had been preparing to reopen based on 2m social distancing, but welcomed the reduction to 1m, saying: “It means we will be able to work at around 75% capacity rather than 50%.
“We’ve remained in contact with clients through lockdown with advice to help them avoid hair disasters. Then a couple of weeks ago we started taking provisional appointments, and the phone’s been very active.”
Clients will be offered face-masks while stylists will be wearing lightweight visors. Other changes will see a hand-sanitising station for clients, and the reception will be screened off.
Ms Cannan said: “There are some of our usual touches that have had to go, such as offering tea, coffee or magazines to clients. They will also have to put on their own gowns and hang up their own coats.”
But she’s confident clients will adjust: “People having been waiting so long for this that they will be happy with the new normal.”