Hair and beauty businesses have called on the government to allow the sector to return to normal operations, arguing that social distancing and hygiene are inherent attributes of the industry.
“It is ironic that one can never acquire a hairdressing certificate unless they demonstrate that they understand how important hygiene and sanitisation is,” said Feroza Fakir, vice-president of the South African Association of Health and Skincare Professionals.
Businesses in the industry will only be allowed to operate during level 1 of the lockdown. Industry players are concerned that by the time that level is declared, many businesses will have crashed.
“People are very desperate and they are not able to put bread on the table,” said Fakir.
The association is working with the Employers’ Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty (EOHCB) to lobby the government to allow the industry to return to work.
The EOHCB said it is in the process of submitting a detailed plan to the department of trade & industry, arguing that it is important to allow hairdressers, nail technicians and beauty therapists to return to work. General manager Cobus Grobler said two such plans have already been forwarded to the department.
“We could open up establishments which have between two and five employees, with strict requirements, such as keeping a mandatory distance of up to 1.5m per work station. For larger businesses, we could say no full-body waxing or no client is allowed to spend more than an hour in an establishment, with thorough sanitisation and decontamination done between clients,” said Grobler.
“What is certain is that we have to return to work or we will have nothing to return to when the lockdown is lifted.”
Modern Hair and Beauty MD Chris Stofberg, whose company supplies 1,800 salons with products, said it is critical for the government to open up not just the industry, but the entire economy.
“We employ about 75 people and we didn’t make any turnover in April. We are not able to pay full salaries. We can’t go on like this. I see notices of salons closing every day, albeit under strict conditions.
“Hair, nails and beauty are key to the psychological wellbeing of people. I genuinely feel the ongoing closure of small businesses will do more harm than the virus itself.”
Co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, announcing two weeks ago that beauty products could be sold under level 4, said: “You can do it yourself.”