Amid rising reports of black market haircuts, the president of the Irish Hairdressers' Federation has appealed to people to support salons by avoiding services which are closed under current restrictions.
Danielle Kennedy spoke to BreakingNews.ie about the challenges facing salons with no indication of when the current lockdown restrictions will be eased.
Ms Kennedy acknowledged that people may be frustrated with no idea of when they can get a hair cut, however, she said the black market does not help anyone.
“A salon is a very controlled environment. Before reopening there will be another course for employees on how to work through Covid, we are required to do that. Those protocols and requirements obviously aren't in place for anyone working in the black market.
“All those things put together just make salons a much safer environment and obviously a black market, a shadow economy, they're not contributing anything to the Exchequer either, it doesn't help anyone from a health and safety or a financial point of view.”
She feels it will be a comfort to people when a reopening date is on the horizon.
“If we get a reopening date it will give people that bit of hope, if people see it's seven weeks or whatever, they'll think 'I can do this', but it's the fear of the unknown where they'll think 'I'm not going to wait indefinitely for salons to reopen'.
“Hairdressers are a vital part of the economy, but they're a vital part of the community as well, obviously we would encourage people to support their local economies and local communities by holding out for them as much as they possibly can.”
Ms Kennedy and the IHF have consistently lobbied for hairdressers to be allowed to reopen at Level 4 of the Living with Covid plan, citing the safety of salons and additional protections they have put in place.
She said they had taken a temporary break when the Covid situation worsened in January, but will continue to call on the Government to allow hairdressers back at an early stage of any plan to reopen society.
“The IHF recently updated our industry guidelines for salons, on the back of that we were lobbying to be moved to Level 4.
“We are engaged with Government, they have seen our updated guidelines, and we just hope they take that into consideration. At the time when we updated at Christmas we were the only industry that had updated our guidelines.
“We've shown all through this what a proactive and safe industry we are. We want all that taken into consideration when they are reopening the country.
“People are feeling the pinch, this is looking like it's going to be the longest lockdown we've had. People don't have as much leeway with landlords, mortgage and loan breaks, it's tough for people in business.”
Eight people were arrested in Dublin on Wednesday morning after a beauty salon opened its doors for the second day in a row, despite Level 5 restrictions, and a demonstration took place.
Ms Kennedy said she hadn't heard of any hair salons opening during restrictions, and appealed to them not to do so.
“As much as we know salons are safe and should be allowed to open early on when the country is reopened, we would appeal to our members not to open against public health advice, for many reasons; as an employer you have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment, and you have a duty of care to employees, insurance issues, we would appeal to people not to [reopen against guidelines].”
Ms Kennedy cited the low number of outbreaks associated to salons, and other personal services, as she reiterated the need for salons to be prioritised when the country does eventually reopen.
“I looked at the statistics myself and there were only three outbreaks associated with personal services as a whole, not just hair, they're very low numbers.”