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'The industry can't carry the cost': Customers may expect PPE charges at hair salons from next week

One industry source claimed salons will spend thousands on PPE every week.

Image: Shutterstock/DuxX

CUSTOMERS WHO ATTEND barbers or hairdressers from next week onwards may expect an increase in the price of their haircut due to additional costs related to Covid-19.

The industry is expected to re-open from 29 June, under third phase of the government’s roadmap for lifting restrictions introduced in March to curb the spread of coronavirus.

But safety protocols for staff and customers mean that the experience of getting a hair cut will change significantly compared with doing so pre-lockdown.

Guidelines published by the Irish Hairdressers’ Federation (IHF) contain over 100 specific recommendations to safeguard staff and customers in salons and barbers.

They include Covid-19 training for all staff, screening of customers when taking bookings, and thorough hand-washing by staff before and after each customer.

The guidance also asks salons and barbers to make extensive use of PPE for stylists and customers, while equipment, basins, chairs and workstations should also be cleaned between clients.

Margaret O’Rourke Doherty, CEO of the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation, told TheJournal.ie that the costs incurred by businesses to implement new measures are significant.

“There are all of those costs that are hidden and that the public can’t see, but which an industry can’t carry,” she explained.

“A lot of this cost is before the doors even open, and on top of massive debts already built up in the system, as is happening in other industries.”

O’Rourke Doherty outlined how some small salons were expecting to pay almost €1,500 a week on PPE, and said the majority of salons she surveyed had no choice but to pass extra costs on to customers because they are unable to take the hit themselves.

“All of these businesses closed in the national interest and now they have a real issue trying to get themselves back up again,” she said.

“But on the whole, most clients are actually happy to pay the PPE charge because they understand that salons are taking their hygiene and their health extremely seriously.”

But another barber who spoke to TheJournal.ie said that although he won’t charge customers for the use of PPE.

John Keegan, who runs The Academy Barber and The Academy Belle Hairdressing with his wife in Celbridge and Maynooth in Co Kildare, explained that he felt it was unfair to do so.

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“We won’t be changing our prices at all, because I felt it isn’t customers’ fault they couldn’t get their hair done,” he said.

“And everybody’s kind of nervous about money because let’s be honest, things haven’t been great in the last while.”

Keegan said that he has paid more than €15,000 to upgrade his three businesses ahead of 29 June. However, he noted that he was lucky that the company’s landlords froze their rent on his outlets during lockdown.

“Effectively, we’re opening back up on zero, and it’s very nervous. But at the end of the day, I’ve been there before my career when I started out and I made it work.”

Earlier, it was reported that hair chain Peter Mark had advised customers that one-off charges of between €45 and €60 may apply to restore hair colour or colour roots which had grown out during the closure of salons.

However, a statement from a spokeswoman said that these services have always been available at Peter Mark but are normally not needed by clients when salons are open.

The spokeswoman also told TheJournal.ie that the company had advertised the charges in order to be transparent with customers, and confirmed that the company would not charge additional costs for the use of PPE.

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