‘We’ve been left to rot’: Barber’s view on Boris as salons prepare to reopen

PUBLISHED: 16:51 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:54 19 June 2020

Gentleman Jacks. Pic: submitted

Gentleman Jacks. Pic: submitted

Barbers and hairdressers in Norfolk feel let down by the government as they brace themselves for reopening in confusion.

Ashley Yarwood at Gentleman Jacks barbers feels badly let down by the government. Pic: Gentleman JacksAshley Yarwood at Gentleman Jacks barbers feels badly let down by the government. Pic: Gentleman Jacks

Some salon bosses are frantically booking in clients from July 4, while others are keeping their books firmly closed until given the green light. Many are trying to implement safety measures from guidelines issued abroad such is the lack of UK information.

And it emerged the industry is increasingly concerned about the mental health of workers facing unprecedented customer demand and longer hours because of the extra time required to clean down between each client.

Deb Dominic, of Hairsmiths. Pic: Archant/HairsmithsDeb Dominic, of Hairsmiths. Pic: Archant/Hairsmiths

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It comes as this newspaper has launched a Love Local campaign encouraging people to support businesses trying to get going again after the coronavirus lockdown.

The confusion being felt in the hairdressing sector is echoing that of holiday parks, self-catering firms and hotels. All are working towards reopening next month without details from Downing Street on how.

Gentleman Jacks. Pic: Gentleman JacksGentleman Jacks. Pic: Gentleman Jacks

Ashley Yarwood, a barber with Gentleman Jacks, with salons in Stalham, Wroxham and Acle, told this newspaper: “Due to the lack of government guidance on how to operate safely, our books remain closed. In fact it’s not a lack of guidance it’s the complete disregard shown to the 43,000 businesses in our industry.

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“In the eyes of thousands of barbers and hairdressers, Boris has left us to rot. People are fuming on how we have not been allowed to return to work, yet parks and beaches are packed, city centres and supermarkets are rammed and little social distancing is actually happening now. Even dentists have returned but hair and beauty can’t.”

Mr Yarwood said he believed it was because of a lack of regulation. “Our industry is not governed in any way and thousands want it to be but it’s a hard slog getting the govenment to listen. Anyone can currently rent a shop and put a barber’s sign outside and because of this we feel it’s the main reason Boris does not know what to do with us.”

Hairsmiths, Timber Hill, Norwich. Pic: ArchantHairsmiths, Timber Hill, Norwich. Pic: Archant

He said at Gentleman Jacks, they’d spent thousands on PPE and were increasing appointment times to allow cleaning between clients. “We have had to increase our prices to reflect this but we are still going to be taking a massive financial hit.”

Others are also deciding against booking in clients, despite demand. At both Barry Alan hair salon, Pottergate, Norwich and Hairsmiths, Timberhill, Norwich, owners are awaiting the go-ahead before making any appointments. Deb Dominic, who owns Hairsmiths, has just put in perspex screens at the till and between wash basins as well as buying disposable gowns and towels for clients and masks, visors and gloves for all staff. She’s also had to cover her wooden surfaces in the newly renovated salon with a special acrylic coating to allow for disinfecting. “My plan is to have everything in order so we can have a risk assessment ahead of opening, with the aim of opening on July 4. We have had little guidance from the government as to what will be required but our industry body NHBF, National Hair and Beauty Federation, are in talks with the government daily and have been chasing information.

“As an independent salon, we have been given advice based on on global data of salons which have reopened worldwide already, in Australia and Europe, and also how businesses were affected. One of the main concerns was to prepare us mentally for what is ahead of us.”

However, Ms Dominic said local salons had pulled together. “We are positively optimistic about our return but it’s not going to be easy at all.”

Stone Hairdressing. Pic: StoneStone Hairdressing. Pic: Stone

Lauren Reeves, owner of Stone Hairdressing, Wensum Street, Norwich, has been booking up clients from July 4 and is already completely full for the entire month. With only herself in the business, she plans to operate a one person in, one person out system. But she is going to have to increase her hours, going from working four days a week to six to accommodate the bookings and factoring in cleaning. “When I had to close, it was terrifying. But I got a £10,000 government grant which really helped, meant I could pay my rent on the salon and stopped me from going into a total panic. We’ve had no guidelines so I’ve followed guidelines from Spain and Germany.”

At Swagger & Jacks barbers, Orford Hill, Norwich, they’re also taking bookings, implementing a new online system. Some customers have already booked up appointments for the rest of the year. But owner Mark Young said they can’t offer a major part of their service. beard trims or shaving until they know more from the government. They’re also insisting all customers wear masks.

Lauren Reeves and her puppies, Henry and Bertie. Photo: Stone HairdressingLauren Reeves and her puppies, Henry and Bertie. Photo: Stone Hairdressing

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