Beauty and grooming services need a detailed and careful protocol before being allowed to open up
Do we open salons or not? As a haircut closely follows liquor as the most sought after service, both the Centre and State Governments are wondering whether to list barber services as an essential category or not. Unfortunately what was once essential has now been pushed to being non-essential as grooming and care involve close proximity and touch therapy that are anathema in times of the pandemic. In fact, barber and salon services were the reason that cases spread in New York. With the nation entering the fourth phase of the lockdown, the southern States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have decided to allow barbers with mandatory riders like all-time use of masks and sanitisers, sterilisation of tools, maybe protective suits of some sort and maintaining social distancing. While in Kerala, barber shops are now allowed to open on a rotational basis without air conditioning, so that the enclosed air filters out, in Tamil Nadu, they have been allowed to operate in rural areas, too. The Palaniswamy Government has even gone a step ahead by announcing a Rs 2,000 dole for unregistered barbers. Those registered with the Tamil Nadu Hair Dressers Welfare Board have already been compensated. Much as we may laugh about the need for a haircut or trim, fact is livelihoods have been lost. At the same time, this means that it is mandatory for establishments to ensure that staff at such outlets should be COVID-free to inspire confidence. Clients walking in need to be screened, too, lest they infect staff. Besides, a cap has to be put on the number of clients that can be attended to in a day. At the moment, they should run in green zones only.
One may argue that in times when the world is facing a pandemic, we should not fuss about the vanity of appearances. More than anything, those not accustomed to having long hair or beard, especially men, are bound to feel itchy and some sort of irritation and allergies during the high heat of summer. There are skin hygiene issues involved, too. True, people are now managing with trimmers and razors and experimenting with tools at home but that is a temporary compromise. A clear protocol for beauty and grooming services has to be evolved that may need additional costs in terms of safety gear and inputs. And many players may not have the resource depth to continue. But at least a conversation for reopening services has started.
Wednesday, 20 May 2020 | Pioneer
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