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Hairdressers bracing for onslaught when salons reopen

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Lisa Eccles owns Zinc Hair and Beauty in Kilmainham

Lisa Eccles owns Zinc Hair and Beauty in Kilmainham

Lisa Eccles owns Zinc Hair and Beauty in Kilmainham

Lisa Eccles and her staff are bracing themselves for a stampede of clients anxious to get their hair done when salons are allowed to reopen later this month.

The owner of Zinc Hair and Beauty in Kilmainham said she welcomes news that salons can reopen three weeks earlier than planned under an accelerated time- table announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Under the new rules, hairdressers and barbers can reopen on June 29.

For many salon owners struggling to stay afloat, it is welcome news.

"I think it will keep some businesses alive," Ms Eccles said.

Many salon owners, who are small independent business operators, are still faced with rent and other business expenses that have been piling up since they were forced to close in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I owe €9,000 in rent," Ms Eccles said. "Each month closed is an additional €3,000 in rent."

On top of her regular outgoings, Ms Eccles, who has owned her business for the past 11 years, said salon owners are faced with additional costs to provide PPE, as well as having to retro-fit their places to allow for social-distancing and other measures that will add a fee of around €5 per client.

Before the pandemic, she had between nine and 11 work stations.

However, depending on whether the Government reduces the current social distance of two metres to one, she is looking at a best-case scenario of eight stations under a one-metre distance or four to six stations under with two-metres.

The number of clients each day will be drastically reduced.

Inundated

Add the pent-up demand for hair cuts and dye jobs over the past three months and Ms Eccles is expecting to be inundated with hundreds of appointments each week for the foreseeable future.

For that reason, she will be extending the salon's opening hours to 8.30pm every day for a month to cope.

To minimise the risk of staff passing the virus on to others if they are infected, her 15 stylists will work in separate teams of seven or eight, who will each do three 12-hour shifts a week with four days off.

There will no doubt be a barrage of fix-up jobs to correct badly executed home dye jobs and hair cuts, like "dodgy fringes and lumps taken out at the side of the head", she said.

Along with having to wait weeks for an appointment, clients can expect an entirely different experience when they return to their hairdresser, Ms Eccles added.

They will be pre-screened by phone before their appointment to ensure they have not been exposed to the virus, and will have to wear disposable masks provided by the salon.

There will be no magazines, while beverages will not be allowed to prevent people taking off masks.