By JOHN LEGASPI

The implementation of general community quarantine (GCQ) in many locations in the Philippines allowed various businesses to open their doors and offer services under strict compliance with the government’s safety protocols. Among the businesses that are back are salons and barber shops. In some places, barbers and hairstylists are seen wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) while attending to a limited number of customers.

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Permitting salons and barber shops to operate again has been a difficult topic for the government and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Unfortunately, for areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), salons and barbershops are still prohibited to operate.

“I have never seen any issue as controversial as barbers in the IATF,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says in an interview with ANC. “Someone almost cried about the issue of barbers because there is no way we can maintain safe social distancing in barber shops and in salons.”

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Photo by Jansen Romero

Agreeing to this is deputy chief implementer of National Task Force against Covid-19 Vince Dizon, who even suggested that wives can do their husbands’ hair at home. In his interview with One News, he said that in other countries like the US, barber shops and salons are on top of the list of places with high transmission rate of Covid-19.

“Barber shops top the list of high transmission rate in New York,” he says. “That is why we have to keep them closed in the meantime. We need to get used to it… We just have to make the adjustments slowly and surely.”

With their livelihood hanging on the line, salon and barber shop owners are thinking of ways on how to save their businesses from closing as the country continues to fight its battle against the pandemic. Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with Louis Kee, owner and creative director of Lifestyle Salon by Louis Philippe Kee, and Martin Warren, co-founder and general manager of Felipe and Sons Barberdashery, as they discuss the future of the hair service industry, and why they should be allowed to operate while the community quarantine is implemented.

ADDITIONAL SAFETY AND SANITATION MEASURES

Attending to customers’ bodies require strict hygiene protocols and equipment cleaning measures to ensure good and safe service. The hair service industry, even before the days of community quarantine, have been paying strict attention to this matter.

“Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, salons and barber shops have always taken the necessary sanitary precautions as stylists and barbers deal with things such as razors, scissors, hair dyes, and other equipment and items that need constant sanitation and extra attention and care,” says Warren. “Our barbers and other barber shops I know have always practiced wearing masks and gloves while servicing clients, and we’ve always had our barbers sanitize their tools before and after every service.”

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Photo from Lifestyle salon by Louis Philippe Kee

Given the current situation, it is expected that the industry will include more measures in maintaining their shops and keeping the spread of the coronavirus at bay.

“I am now collaborating with other salon owners about doing strict guidelines and monitoring safety protocols,” says Kee. According to the two, to keep their businesses free from Covid-19, they will be implementing the following:

  • Mandatory thermal scanning and foot bath for all clients upon entrance
  • Clients must wear face masks at all times
  • Staff should also wear protective gear such as face masks, face shield, and gloves
  • Proper observance of physical distancing
  • Immediate disinfecting of chairs after every use
  • Regular disinfecting of door handles, handrails, comfort rooms, and common areas
  • Removal of magazines and other reading materials
  • Availability of alcohol and hand sanitizers at each station
  • Encourage contactless payment transactions as much as possible

Another measure Kee is implementing in his salon is the issuance of visitation cards. “These cards will be handed out to each client for servicing records with address, age, services availed, and other details,” he says. “This will help us trace our clients if ever an infection case arises.”

RESERVATIONS ONLY

To keep the salons and barber shops from being crowded, online or advance booking of services will be implemented.

“Appointments will also be critical to the industry to help in planning schedules and to make sure that physical distancing is accomplished,” Warren says. “I think a lot of shops will not allow walk-in customers, and encourage clients to either book online or call to make an appointment.”

Just like in many industries, it is expected that these hair service businesses will be operating with a limited workforce, providing services to fewer customers.

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NO MORE CLOSE CONTACT SERVICES

While salon and barber shop services are still up for discussion, expect that some of their usual offerings may not be available. To adhere with health protocols, services that require closer contact with customers will be prohibited. These services include waxing, eyelash extensions, eyebrow microblading, and massages.

A LESS PERSONAL SERVICE

A trip to the salon is a way for ladies to be relaxed and to chat with other women, while brotherhood between gents is always central to barber shops. However, due to quarantine measures, these owners are seeing a less personal touch on their services.

“I think overall, the whole experience will be less personal for the protection of both customers and the staff,” says Warren. “I say this because before Covid-19 our barbers would greet each customer with a handshake, and also bring each of them to the door to say thank you. Some customers who are close with their barbers or our staff would stay a while and chat. These things that make the barbershop experience more social and personal will have to stop for now to make sure that health and safety protocols are followed.”

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Photo from Felipe and Sons Barberdashery

The same goes with beauty salons. With lesser staff and the fear of getting infected still in the atmosphere, the experience will not be how it was before.

“Since we will be living like this in our new normal, which I don’t believe is going to be over until the rainy season, all we can do is to adapt,” Kee says. “We’re just going to have to take these practices into our daily lives and keep in mind the idea of safety first.”

HAIR CUTTING AS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE

“Hair salons and barber shops have essential services for the public,” says Kee. “We improve people’s wellbeing by attending to their hair. It is extremely difficult to cut and color on your own, not to mention thermal straightening and keratin treatments on the hair.”

Though it is clear that the role of these hairstylists and barbers are important to the customers, their jobs are still at risk as their operations depend on when the community quarantine is going to be lifted.

“I think if the community quarantine is extended further, and salons and barber shops and other similar services are not allowed to operate, we could see a lot of shops close as businesses of this nature are highly dependent on daily sales to remain running,” Warren says. “Because of closures we could also see more unemployment as these service professionals would not be able to find jobs here in the Philippines, and because of the tightening measures on travel and immigration they also would not be able to migrate or find jobs abroad.”

“There will be drastic financial consequences that will affect many salon owners and their working staff of stylists and assistants,” Kee says. “This will result to workers unable to put food on their tables for their families. It will also affect the country’s economy.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/21/whats-next-for-the-hair-service-industry/)