'Slow and cautious': Cork salons ready to open with strict safety protocols

'Slow and cautious': Cork salons ready to open with strict safety protocols

CORK beauty salons are preparing for a “slow and cautious” reopening of their doors under a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions

CORK beauty salons are preparing for a “slow and cautious” reopening of their doors under a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions

Beauty salons are expected to “phase-in” customers, with riskier treatments shelved in the early days as staff and clients adjust to a “new normal” on June 29.

In Priya on French Church Street, first-phase treatments will include waxing, threading, tinting, lash lifts and a number of massage treatments limited to up to one hour.

The salon has decided not to offer some “high risk” treatments in the initial days of reopening in the interest of staff and client safety.

Sara Roberts, proprietor Priya Therapy on French Church street
Sara Roberts, proprietor Priya Therapy on French Church street

“The main one we won’t be doing is a deep cleanse facial,” owner Sara Roberts said.

“Our rooms are quite small and intimate. We’d have hot steam going all around the room; we risk assessed this and we just thought that it’s just too high risk to start off with.”

While some treatments including massages would usually be offered up to an hour-and-a-half, they will be capped at one hour for the time being.

“We’ll review every three weeks,” Sara said.

The salon is taking a very measured and cautious approach to reopening, with strict Covid-19 protocols in place for both staff and clients.

Clients will be sent a screening form prior to their appointment.

They will be asked to bring minimal personal belongings to appointments and to wear masks to the salon or will be provided with one upon arrival to Priya.

Prior to their appointment, they’ll be asked to sanitise their hands and only one person will be allowed in the waiting area.

Sara said the salon has always been strict on hygiene but they will “up it even more”.

Sara and her staff have even retrained in a new method of threading in recent weeks to optimise client safety.

“We used to anchor the thread between our teeth. So now we’ve changed that. We now use an Iranian technique that we loop around our neck so we do not have to anchor the thread in our mouth.”

Sara and one of her co-workers filmed a video showcasing this new method on the salon’s Facebook and Instagram pages to reassure customers.

“People know we anchor the thread in our teeth so we’re showing people how we’ve come up with a new way of doing our threading,” she explained.

The video also sought to show clients how the salon would operate in the coronavirus era and has received a very positive reaction.

“People are really liking it. it’s just exactly what to expect you know, we went through the whole hand washing and sanitising, and masks.”

Sara said she is looking forward to returning to work and to repaying the debts she has incurred as a result of the pandemic.

“We’re open almost 14 years and I was debt-free for the first time in the last two or three years and now I’m back in debt again.

“It’s so upsetting after all the hard work. I need to start paying back rent and all the other bills asap. I need to get back.”

The restrictions the salon will face operating post-Covid means it will be harder than ever for the business to return a profit, something that is a concern for many small business owners like Sara.

“We have to give way more time now for a brow and a tint, say.

“It will take us a half an hour now, by the time you clean up and have wiped everything down. I’m going to be taking in less, but what can we do? That’s just the way it is.

“You just have to work with what you have. And you have to go by what the rules are saying, you don’t have a choice.

“I’m not gonna moan about it,” Sara says, “I just want to open those doors and start getting out of debt again.”

While the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation Ireland and the Irish Spa Association have published reopening guidelines for beauty salons and spas in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, CEO Margaret O’Rourke-Doherty said “there is no stipulation” for beauty workers in what they can or can’t do when they return to work.

“Each business needs to risk assess and see what treatments they can provide, in a way that is reasonable and practical for them” she said.

“A facial requires that you don’t wear a mask. Likewise, you can’t wear a mask if you go for a hot towel shave in barbers. But the therapist can, or they can opt to wear a visor.

“There are lots of measures that therapists can use to put a physical barrier between themselves and the client.

“I think it really comes down to what the client is comfortable with and what the therapist is comfortable with,” she said.

Margaret, who has worked in the hair and beauty industry for two decades, said she is “very confident” that the industry will be ready to go on June 29.

“Since this lockdown happened, we have had nothing but training going on. Last week, we had a thousand salons doing hygiene training with us.

“I think the consumer should be 100% confident in going back to salons. The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) have made this decision based on health and medical advice.

“For those that are ready to go, they’ll open their doors. And for those that may need another week, they won’t.

“Every salon is different, but for the vast majority of salons across the country, they’ll be ready to go.

“The day they open will be a milestone in the country moving forward in the Covid-19 journey.”

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