As coronavirus 'lockdown' measures continue to ease across the UK, the demand for a decent haircut is at fever pitch — but when can guys expect their barbers to re-open, and what will haircut safety procedures look like?
Currently, UK prime Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to update the nation on current coronavirus safety measures and social guidelines, an announcement that could affect the re-opening of over 41,0000 barber shops, salons and hairdressers and answer a much-asked question.
With non-essential shops having re-opened on June 15th, new reports forecast the two-metre rule being halved to one metre in England, personal social 'bubbles' increasing and pubs, hotels and cafés being fast-tracked to serve food and drink outside, with customers being encouraged to 'register' upon entering.
The government has also warned that these moves would be reversed if they lead to a virus 'surge', but health secretary Matt Hancock believes England is "clearly on track" to further ease coronavirus 'lockdown' restrictions, with barbers and salons potentially reopening their doors.
"The reason we are able to move forward this week is because the vast majority of people have taken steps to contain the virus," said a No.10 spokesperson. "The more we open up, the more important it is that everyone follows the social distancing rules. We will not hesitate to put the handbrake on to stop the virus running out of control."
While a May report from the BBC showed that "Nineteen out of 50 barbers were willing to break the law", what do the current rulings and future roadmaps mean for your local, law-abiding barber, hairdresser or salons? Is it safe to ditch the hair clippers and get a haircut in an intimate industry that demands several people be in extremely close proximity?
Firstly, it's important to remember the current coronavirus and 'lockdown' rules from the UK government. From the time of publication, UK residents are allowed to:
- Form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you live alone or are a single parent with dependent children, and stay overnight
- Attend your place of worship
- Visit any type of shop and some additional outdoor attractions - drive-in cinemas, and animal attractions like zoos, farms and safari parks
- People must wear a face mask on public transport at all times
- Meet in groups of up to six people who you do not live with
- Travel to outdoor open spaces, regardless of distance
When Will Barbershops and Hairdressers Reopen in he UK?
The UK 'roadmap' currently dictates when barber shops could reopen, with a predicted date being "no earlier than 4 July"– barber shops, salons and hairdressers come under the 'personal care' umbrella in the government document, with beauty salons also included.
Each facility must adhere to strict and secure COVID-19 guidelines to ensure customer and staff safety, as the venues, by design, are very crowded and will prove difficult to ensure social distancing, even if the rules ease to "one metre plus".
But, when barbers re-open, it won't be the same shop that you saw at the beginning of the year. Things will be vastly different. "The Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines," explains the roadmap. "The Government will also monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens."
"We’ve had no guidelines from the government, so we don’t know exactly what is expected of us but we have all the PPE ready including masks, visors, gloves, neck tidies, extra buckets of Virucide etc.," says Andrew Cannon, CEO of Ruffians Barbers. "We didn’t want to put up the generic perspex panels looking like the checkout at Sainsbury’s – we wanted our customers to remember that they were back at Ruffians."
But, what about payments and interacting with elements of the store? "We’ve made everything touchless or disposable so our clients feel safe," says Cannon. "One thing we are very proud of it that it is possible they could walk into their appointment with their hands in their pockets and walk out the same way without ever having removed them because we have a pre-pay app, like Uber."
The Hair Council, the UK Register of qualified hairdressers, also issued safety guidelines for businesses. Guidelines include having plenty of anti bacterial soap, and hand sanitiser available for use when entering the premises and throughout the appointment, using contactless payments, avoiding handshakes and installing a framework that allows for "a bigger space between styling stations".
Visiting a Barber at Home or a Mobile Hairdresser
So, it looks like we've still got some waiting ahead of us. But, what if you know a remote or on-call barber? Compared to the re-opening, this is a harder question to answer. Theoretically, you could form a ‘support bubble’ with a barber and visit him/her at home, but adhering to the current two-metre rule would be impossible. However, many people are doing this already.
"I am already providing a mobile barbering service and I think many others will follow for many reasons," explains Tom Chapman, Founder and CEO of The Lions Barber Collective, a collection of barbers that also help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide. "I think some people will feel safer in their own homes and it also gives a bit more freedom to barbers. With some salons and barbershops splitting their staff into shifts to enable safe social distancing between chairs, some barbers will choose the mobile option to work the hours they want."
"If they’re seeing quite a few clients, that’s interactions with quite a few different people who may also therefore be interacting with other people", said Immunology expert Dr Jenna Macciochi, from the University of Sussex to the Metro. "This all gives any person who may already be infected an asymptomatic opportunity to spread the virus quite rapidly and potentially [to] a large number of people."
Steven Beaver, a mobile hairdresser from London, agrees, but recognises the valuable role that he and his peers will soon play. "Social distancing at two metres apart unfortunately would not be practical due to the nature of our job, but I still feel that there will be more clients approaching their hairstylists to visit them at home," he said to The Telegraph. "I feel my clients may feel a little overwhelmed visiting a busy salon so soon, so they may prefer being in the comfort of their own home."
Where Have Barbershops and Hairdressers Already Re-Opened?
Despite these 'underground' barbers and hairdressers remaining open for appointments in the UK, the majority of the country's facilities are having to look elsewhere for inspiration and guidance on coping during coronavirus, as well as figuring out what happens next.
In Germany, barber shops, hairdressers and salons have been open since the end of May, but the experience is rather different than it was pre-coronavirus. According to the BBC, there are no waiting areas, no magazines or books and no dry cuts available. Staff members and customers alike have to wear face masks, and every visitor has to remain 1.5m (4.9ft) away from each other. Cloaks, scissors and other tools also must be washed after every use and hand sanitiser will be widely available.
Similarly, gloves must be worn by the barber until a customer's hair is washed and, perhaps to the delight of some patrons, face-to-face conversation is prohibited during the haircut, with communication and cutting cues done via the mirror and kept to an absolute minimum. Broadly, barbers and hairdressers in Europe have been among the first enterprises to open once 'lockdown' restrictions were lifted, with salons in Spain operating at 30 per cent capacity and by appointment only.
Missing Your Barber? Here's How to Do a Buzzcut at Home
The best at-home DIY haircut is a buzzcut. While you wait for barbers to re-open, this is the safest (and considerably stylish) haircut that's been rocked by David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Riz Ahmed, Héctor Bellerín and countless others.
So, if you want to make like Becks et al, heed our guide to an at-home buzzcut. Firstly, wash your hair. Secondly, cut any stray hairs that aren't part of your head hair. While your hair dries naturally, choose a grade (0.5 = 1.5mm, 1.0 = 3mm, 2.0 i 6mm, 3.0 = 10mm, 4.0 = 13mm) and stick to it during the haircut.
Starting at the back hairline, work all the way up the crown until the hair has gone. Once the hair changes direction, you need to change direction too. If you started at the front, work your way back towards the crown. Go over each section several times to neaten it up. The final step is to then wait patiently for your barber or salon to re-open, because it won't be long.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it’s possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you’re in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (edited)
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