By Bonnie Kidd
Australian hairdressers are feeling confused after Prime Minister Scott Morrison backtracked on his previously announced time restrictions for hairdressing and barber appointments, to control the spread of COVID-19.
In a media statement released on Tuesday March 24, Mr Morrison announced that hair salons could continue to operate under a new strict 30-minute contact rule. Following widespread feedback about the practical implementation of the measures, Mr Morrison retracted the restriction on Thursday, stating that hairdressers and barbers could continue to operate to a normal schedule.
Owner of Geelong business Hair with Riss, Larissa Sopronick, is frustrated with the lack of clear messaging being given to hairdressers.
“Going back and forth between different levels of restrictions is getting ridiculous. It’s becoming dangerous for my clients and myself, and I’m feeling extremely anxious about bringing the virus into my family home”, she said.
Sopronick is choosing to close her doors on March 30 due to COVID-19 related health concerns, despite instructions that hairdressers are allowed to keep operating, because she “simply feels unsafe”.
The restrictions currently in place include a 1.5 meter distance between clients, a 4 square metre rule per person in an enclosed space, and personal contact should be limited where possible, which Sopronick says is unattainable in the beauty profession.
A client of Sopronicks’, Helena Kraft, thinks that while you can’t put a price on public safety, closing salons at this stage of the crisis seems “extreme”.
“Getting your hair done is a huge part of what our society thinks of as ‘self-care’. The isolation period is going to be tough on everyone’s mental health, and people still have a right to feel good about themselves during this time,” she said.
Ms Kraft said she didn’t think hair salons should be shut down yet, but “a 30-minute time limit is reasonable, as long as proper safety precautions are taken”.
“I don’t think Scott Morrison should have reversed the restriction. However it’s one less demographic of workers who will be out of a job, so to me that’s a positive”, she said.
Sopronick expressed her disappointment and frustration at many of her clients for not taking the situation seriously enough.
“I’m scared to think where this will go in the future if we don’t take proper action now and shut down everything that is non-essential, including hairdressers”, she said.
In his media statement, Mr Morrison said Australians would be living with this virus for at least six months, so the restrictions must be sustainable for at least that period of time.