Irish hairdressers should be allowed to remain open in Level 4 of the Government's Living with Covid plan, according to the president of the Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF).
While salons are coping with huge demand in December, Danielle Kennedy told BreakingNews.ie that the sector has done enough to prove it can operate safely under Level 4 restrictions.
Ms Kennedy said: “We're starting to lobby now so that salons can remain open in Level 4, we're trying to future-proof the industry for the start of next year.
“We've proven what a safe industry it is and what a safe environment it is and how easily we can adapt and operate within the guidelines. At the IHF we feel that we should be allowed to open at that higher level of restrictions.”
Ms Kennedy welcomed Government supports, however, she warned that further closures could put a lot of salons at risk of permanent closure.
“This has been a tough year for business in any industry. The Government supports have been great, the Budget was good to us, it really helped a lot of people out as did the PUP [Pandemic Unemployment Payment], which looked after our team members.
“However, going into next year there would be a fear of businesses shutting down. Our industry is coming off the back of a couple of bad years. We had a VAT increase, which meant salons had to increase prices, we had the [abolition] of trainee rates too.
“The industry was just starting to get back on its feet after the knock of those two years and then the pandemic hit. Going into next year, that's where the fear would lie if we have to close again, a lot of businesses may not be able to reopen.”
She cited the UK as a precedent for the argument for Irish hairdressers to stay open in Level 4.
In the British system of tiered restrictions, salons can remain open in every level except for a full lockdown situation.
“In the UK's tiered system, salons remain open in all of their tiers barring a lockdown situation. There's a good precedent there for us in other countries that salons can remain open in higher levels.”
Ms Kennedy said that business has been good since hairdressers were allowed to reopen, with most salons fully booked until Christmas Eve.
She urged people to remember that salons will need support more than ever after the busy Christmas period.
“What we're saying to people is to keep in mind that there are plenty of days after December 24th to come back to your salon and support them.
“Everyone wants to be looked after before Christmas so that does make things difficult but most salons will get to look after the majority of their regular clients, there may be a small few that aren't going to be able.”