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Getting ready to clear the hair

Features

GETTING READY Petals Hair and Beauty staff member Caoimhe Bourke Tuffy pictured in their Castlebar store. They will reopen for hairdressing on Monday next.

Castlebar

Oisin McGovern

Hairdressing salons will open three weeks earlier than previously scheduled under the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions. For those in need of a haircut, a colouring or a blow-dry, June 29 cannot come fast enough.
Petals Hair and Beauty, which operates beauty salons in Westport and Castlebar as well as a hair and beauty retail business, is one such operation preparing to open their doors to clients next Monday.
However, as expected, one of the most sorely-missed treats of life before Covid-19 won’t be the exact same experience as before. The Irish Hairdressers Federation has published over 100 different recommendations for members who are re-opening in the coming days.
“Our top priority is the safety of our staff and clients,” said Joan Rowland, owner of Petals. “Clients must be willing to travel unaccompanied to their appointment and get their temperature checked on the way in. They must wear a mask, be on time, and wait to be called in. There will be no kids allowed in either.”
Having had to close temporarily in March after 27 years in business, Joan moved her retail business online, packaging products from her dining room throughout the lockdown. She recently began selling products in-store when she re-opened the reception area of her salons for four hours a day.
Even though her Westport premises boast a generous amount of floor space, capacity must be reduced by 60 percent in order to comply with physical distancing. Staff will wear personal protective equipment and operate two separate shifts to minimise mixing. Joan has also gotten local Westport company Skyport Engineering to install perspex screens in her salons.
While online sales of their beauty products have been going well throughout the lockdown, Joan has still lost an enormous amount of business.
“We’ve had to cancel a huge amount of weddings. We’re hoping that they will re-schedule for later this year. We’d also cater for hen parties as we’ve huge square footage in our Westport salon,” she says.

Backlog
Indeed, Joan predicts that the months-long backlog of desperate clients will take at least a month to get through.
“It’ll be mental. A lot of people will be due back to have colour done or even with nails we’d see them every two or three weeks. We will probably open from 8am to 8pm for two weeks to help us get through it. We usually open for four hours on a Sunday anyway.
“If we socially distance our staff and put them in pods together it should be okay. But it’s going to be difficult. Everybody’s going to have to be mindful about breaking into someone else’s area. I also think facials and massages will be off the menu for a while.”
While re-opening will be difficult for many salons, Joan says that her bank and the restart grants provided by Mayo County Council have been very helpful.
“The banks and landlords have been very helpful. A lot of the companies we deal with like L’Oreal have been really helpful. The whole community of Westport and Castlebar have been really supportive. People have been calling us to buy vouchers saying ‘it’s for a treat for myself, but I want to support you when ye re-open’.
“In Westport we’re right next to McCormack’s butchers who were open during the lockdown and they kept packages for us that were ordered online. That was really nice.”
Joan says being able to go and get pampered for a few hours will provide a badly-need social outlet for many clients who have been lonely during lockdown.
“A lot of people who are alone want to get out and meet people, and the hairdresser can be the place where can do that. In business you make friends with your customers and clients so you’re concerned for them. It’s a very sociable business and we like to take care of our customers and give them a good experience.”