Beauty and hair salon owners are confused and weary of how stringent new health measures will affect their businesses ahead of reopening this week.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Robert Abela had announced that businesses in the beauty industry can reopen as of Friday under condition of certain measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, some fear the added costs, limits on clients and unclear advice might make reopening impossible.
“Although I was expecting to have a few issues, to be honest I never thought that the problems caused by these regulations would have been so useless, unrealistic and unsustainable,” beauty parlour owner Viola Cassar said.
“If the document means what it stated it’s really not feasible for anybody in this field to reopen.”
Since reading the document, Cassar has reached out to the Superintendent of Public Health for clarification on certain points. She has not received a reply from authorities so far.
One measure requires salons to contact clients before their appointments to ask whether they have had any respiratory symptoms or fever in the last week or if they are in mandatory quarantine.
“Clients which want a service will never ever admit having any symptoms. In this way we will be facing clients telling us that their symptoms are due to their usual hay-fever, so how are we supposed to face these clients?”
And on the topic, it is unclear whether the vulnerable would be permitted to their services and who would be held responsible.
“Also people over the age of 65 are not restricted to frequent salons, are people with respiratory or chronic diseases prohibited or restricted in any ways? And will the salon owner liable for them?”
Another measure requires personal protective equipment for staff that must be changed for every client. Meanwhile, the introduction of sanitisers, contactless forehead thermometers, perspex barriers and regular disinfection means that salons will have growing costs and less revenue, especially with a limit of one client at a time.
“We need to import everything, which is already very expensive for us. To add to that, our wages in Malta are very low, so to add these expenses…it’s quite impossible without raising prices.”
The directive also requires salons to have certification of their water supplies before reopening. And despite the ability to open on Friday, a number of businesses say the process to obtain this certificate can take over a week.
Other hairdressers who spoke to Lovin Malta shared similar concerns.
“We do sanitise often, and will continue to do so. Disposable tools too. But the measures for hairdressers and the need for a water test is not clear at all. Five other hairdressers called 111 for advice and got five different answers,” one salon owner said.
“How can it be that the test takes around 10 to 15 days, and we’re supposed to open in three days with this certificate? We should have been notified before.”
Some fear the unclear advice will hinder their ability to open any time soon.
“It’s like we’ve been slapped in the face, a whole eight pages of regulations, some of which are driving us crazy” Not all was said int he conference. It’s left us with tons fo things to do and say to clients. Some regulations take weeks and where’ve needs to do it, so you all know now that none of us really knows whats happening,” another hairdresser said.
“Salons which are open by Friday are simply ignorant of what the requirements are. The prices will have to go up considerably for each service. All the salons which are not going to put their prices up are simply not implementing the measures.”