Visiting a hair salon under level 3? If these 7 safety precautions aren't adhered to, it's a red flag

To our hairdressers we go? Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
To our hairdressers we go? Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
  • On Wednesday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that a few previously non-essential services will be allowed to operate under level 3 of the national lockdown.
  • Included in these are hair salons, sit-in restaurants, and casinos. 
  • But what does the opening of hair and beauty salons mean for our safety? Here, we give you warning signs of a hair salon that is probably not safe to visit during the lockdown. 

The announcement of the easing of lockdown regulations is good news for several service providers and business owners in South Africa, who have gone over 80 days without an income. It's much-needed economic relief for many.

As one of their clients you're also probably elated by the fact that you can finally do something about your regrowth, directionless brows, and exposed cuticles, but also that you can now support them again... legally.

Come on, we know some peeps have been sneakily dialing their hairdressers for clandestine house calls.

Anyway, if you never took on the challenge of braiding your own hair à la Sho Madjozi, you must be more excited than a kid on Christmas at the thought of getting your tresses plaited, let alone the feeling of that head massage you get when they wash your hair.

READ MORE: Channel you inner Sho Madjozi and braid your own hair at home - 5 easy styles to try

But how safe will it be? 

I was both intrigued and impressed by the safety measures enforced at my dentist's practice (shout-out to them for being two women of colour) when I paid them multiple visits during lockdown. Upon entry, the receptionist opens the door for you by remote control, checks your temperature from outside the door, hands you PPE for your shoes and head - all from the unsanitised entryway.

Once you've put the PPE over your shoes, you have to step on the other side of the demarcated line, where you will then hand over your handbag and mask to be placed in a ziploc bag. The receptionist dresses you in a plastic apron. You're then instructed to rinse your mouth and wash your hands... after which you may not touch your phone until you've seen the dentist.  

I would like for that to be the experience of visiting your hairdresser, nail technician, and tattoo artist under level 3 lockdown. But I am both an idealist and an extremist, who has taken the personal decision to continue with DIY beauty. 

However, for those who would like to make use of 'advanced' level 3 lockdown, we want you to do so as safely as possible. 

UK's first secure hair salon - in Amersham, England - already reportedly put in new procedures earlier this month ahead of selected business reopening from 4 July. SA does not yet have a date, but one has to worry about how much time our businesses have to prepare. However, News24 reports that "specific and stringent safety requirements have been agreed on and will need to be put in place before a business can reopen, and protocols will need to be strictly adhered to for businesses to remain open."

"Announcements will be made in due course to detail these measures and indicate the date from which these activities will be permitted," it further states.

The UK salon mentioned is preparing for reopening with new protective measures against Covid-19 by using PPE, screens and cleaning of tools. The hairstylists will be dressed in full PPE including an apron, face mask, visor and gloves. Customers will also receive PPE on arrival. 

The salon will also no longer accept cash, making use of card payments. In addition to this, floor markings will be used to ensure social distancing is maintained.    

READ MORE: Here's how the UK's 'first secure hair salon' plans to keep Covid-19 at bay when it reopens  

Using this salon as a template of sorts, we also give you a few red flags to look out for when paying your hairdresser a visit: 

First and foremost, Business Insider Australia highlighted that "since you cannot socially distance while getting a haircut, it’s important to weigh your personal risk before heading to a salon." I'll also add that the days of your hairdresser tending to you and another client at the same time are gone now... for safety's sake.

Now let's take our notebooks out for the red flags. 

There's no mask-wearing/PPE policy 

By now, any establishment that still doesn't have a mask policy is one to keep a social distance as wide as the gap between Caster and her competitors, from. More importantly, salons should now probably try by all means to provide single-use PPE to clients - that is, aprons and caps.

There's no reduced capacity 

Under ordinary non-Covid circumstances, a salon would typically not hold more than 40 occupants even when it's month-end and you can't avoid all the bustling. If a salon adheres to social distancing measures, then capacity will subsequently be reduced too. 

They're not cleaning equipment regularly 

We've become hyper vigilant about cleanliness and hygiene in our own homes, and we expect public amenities to be even more so. BI Australia notes that you should ask the following; "Ask if they are cleaning the surfaces, doorknobs, and tools on a regular basis. Are they doing it once a day, between clients, or are they not doing it at all?"

READ MORE: Now that we've all been washing our hands, here are 5 items you should be sanitising regularly too 

Chairs aren't set apart

If I can compliment the fragrance you're wearing during a pandemic, you're sitting/standing too close.  

Walk-ins are allowed 

Allowing walk-ins creates scope for capacity breaches. 

“Any situation where you are going to have a number of people sitting and waiting for a long period of time is a high-risk situation. You really want to look for barber shops or salons that are only taking clients by appointment," BI Australia highlights.

Employee health isn't monitored daily

In the same way you may be exposed to the virus as a client, so is your hairdresser - perhaps even more so, as they'll be handling multiple people daily for hours at a time. Ask if the establishment has been ensuring that staff is healthy daily and checking their temperatures too. 

Temperature checks aren't conducted

While asymptomatic patients would not necessarily have a jarring temperature reading, it might be reassuring to know that your hair salon is checking regardless.

You have a right to ask

An expert that spoke with BI Australia emphasises that you have a right to ask about their safety precautions. "Even personally, if I am going to go to an establishment, and I don’t see a sign on the front door that says, ‘please don’t come in if you are sick or have symptoms, please wear a mask,’ then I am probably not going to go in."

"I have to be the one who is responsible for my own health. If I want to take the risk to go to a hair salon or barber shop, then it is also on me to do my due diligence, ask the questions, and really seek out establishments that are taking the proper steps to protect their employees and customers,” said Dr. Michael Knight, a physician of internal medicine at George Washington University.

READ MORE: This is how you should be washing your clothing and bedding in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic

However, with all that said, if you're still reluctant to enjoy level 3's new, small offerings of freedom, you might find this article on how to soak off your nails at home useful, as well as these six DIY beauty skills some of us have finally mastered during lockdown.

Additional source: Business Insider Australia

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