HABA open letter on behalf of beauty salon owners

Salons across most of Australia are closed. Sydney alone is facing their seventh week of shut doors. With staff wages, rent and other business costs to cover, and the possibility of closures throughout Australia continuing, a feeling of abandonment and despair is settling in.
I have been a hairdresser for over forty years and own salon in Southwest Sydney. Many of my older clients would come in daily, with the visit to the shop sometimes their only social interaction.

We also have working Mums who bring in their laptop and get through reports while being able to spend a few hours doing something that is just for “them”. The local traders swing by and I would always fit them in, even when it’s busy because they are always a bit time-poor! Our salon isn’t just a place where ladies who lunch come to congregate, it’s a community.

As a small business owner, the key to success has always been focusing on my clients. Listening to their needs and ensuring that when they walk out the door, they feel more confident and positive about themselves is critical. I think hairdressing and beauty services is almost as much psychological as it is about good technique!

Our industry recognises that sacrifices must be made to keep our community safe during this pandemic. Last year, our businesses put in place social distancing measures, staff wore masks throughout the day, temperature checks on all entering the premises, QR codes mandatory and sanitizing each workstation were the norm.

As the Chair of Hair and Beauty Australia, I have been inundated with calls and emails from desperate salon and barbershop owners who are seeing their livelihoods decimated and frantic with worry about how to keep staff employed. We as an industry understand the new issues that the Delta variant has brought but we believe that by taking the same measure and guidance that the construction industry or physiotherapy professionals are now following we could open safely on a limited basis.

As the key Peak body of the industry, Hair and Beauty Australia is here to work with the Governments across Australia to help the industry return to work safely.

Specifically:

  • A majority of our members support vaccination mandates and would abide by the same vaccination and testing rules as construction workers if it meant they could return to the salon.
  • We have worked under the 1 person per 4m2 rule and could return to these limits, as well as limiting the total number of individuals in a salon at any time or day.
  • We support and had worked with COVID-19 Safety Plans prior to the current lock-down and would continue improve and follow these plans.
  • Finally, we would support limiting travel by customers to the current local movement limits keeping business local and stop the spreading of people.

Of course, we must strike a balance between the safety of our customers, staff, and most importantly the community that we are all a part of with the damage of remaining closed. We are not asking for anything more than what the construction industry has already been granted, and we would look to work with the requisite health departments to create a specific plan for our industry.

What we need is for the Government to understand the role our services play in the lives of everyday people. It is not about the vanity of our customers but keeping their sanity in these difficult times. The role that the beauty industry plays in the positive mental health of many should not be underestimated.

We need politicians to realise that there are a lot of people hurting in our community and there is a role for our industry to help. So we are just asking for our opportunity to do so safely.

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