Speaking in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson detailed how measures will be relaxed in the coming weeks.
All schools will be reopened on 8 March, while outdoor meetings will be permitted as we move into spring.
However, hospitality and non-essential retail will not reopen before 12 April.
The latter includes hairdressers and other beauty salons. Here’s what we know so far about when they might reopen.
When will hairdressers reopen?
In England, hairdressers have been closed since the third national lockdown was imposed on 5 January.
They had previously been able to operate with Covid-secure measures in tier 1, 2, and 3 locations.
Now, while the easing of lockdown restrictions depends on a number of factors, such as infection rates, the government has said that hairdressers, along with other beauty salons, will not be permitted to reopen again before 12 April.
Welsh ministers have said they will discuss easing some coronavirus lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail in the coming weeks.
This week, Mark Drakeford said hairdressers could be among the non-essential shops to reopen on 15 March, but warned any easing would be gradual.
Can you still book a haircut?
Depending on what services your local hairdresser offers, you might be able to secure an appointment now to ensure that, when your hairdresser is permitted to reopen, you have a confirmed booking.
This might be advisable considering how popular hairdressing services were when they reopened in the summer, with reports of people lining up outside salons at midnight to ensure they were first in line for an appointment.
What rules will hairdressers have to abide by when they reopen?
Hairdressers, barbers and other “close contact services” are some of the hardest for the government to reopen due to the proximity between customers and employees. When they were permitted to open for services in July, that included treatments that “relate to cutting or treating hair on the head” but did not include services like nail salons and tanning.
As social distancing is not possible when having your hair done, your hairdresser will likely have to wear a visor according to the government’s rules. Last time around, the National Hair and Beauty Federation also discouraged talking, and hairdressers were told to keep hair-cutting time to a minimum, and any face-to-face discussions will have to be side-to-side.
How safe are hairdressers and barbers?
Dr Simon Clarke, professor in microbiology at University of Reading, says: “You’re in close proximity to someone so there is a certain amount of risk - if they [hairdresser] are carrying the virus then a visor isn’t going to offer you complete protection because when they talk or breathe out that is directed downwards. There is no simple answer to these things you’ve got to weigh up the risks for yourself.”
Dr Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University and on the Department of Health’s Nervtag (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Group), which advises the Chief Medical Officer on the threat posed by new viruses, says: “Hairdressers do not spend a lot of time face-to-face with customers, the interaction is through the mirror normally. In a sense the customer’s best protection is having confidence in the standards of these places which are used to being sterile anyway.”
What can you do to keep safe when hairdressers reopen?
Wear a face mask - if you can. This is compulsory unless you’re medically exempt.
Consider getting a hairdresser to come to your house. Dr Clarke says that reduces risk in terms of lessening the number of people you come into contact with - but then you run the risk of that person bringing the virus into your home. You might want to consider an al-fresco garden cut if it isn’t raining, as the transmission risk is always lower outside.
Be aware of what you touch. Once again the best way to keep yourself safe is to rely on the basic principles the government has been reiterating for months, mostly keeping your hands clean. Dr Clarke recommends taking a bottle of hand sanitiser. You might want to take a book or paper of your own - make sure you are sensible about where you touch or put things down - including your mobile phone.