A message to Prime Minister, Government and SAGE from Belle Chic on behalf of the Beauty Industry

As the first lockdown eased, the beauty industry was left feeling ignored, in some cases ridiculed and marginalised. We were not allowed to open at the same time as other close contact services (hairdressers, barbers, tattooists) and this eroded consumer confidence in our industry. When we did open, we were so restricted in our treatments that many of our salons were not viable.

This decision to keep beauty salons closed was made without any scientific proof that opening would cause an increase in the spread of Covid-19. I would go as far to say that it was possibly due to ignorance on the part of the Government and its health advisers on how we operate, despite the best efforts of our industry bodies to prove otherwise.

There is no proven data to show that Beauty Therapy contributes to the spread of the virus. The reopening of personal services, such as those within the beauty, spa and wellness industry, has not contributed to the current rise in Coronavirus cases. This is supported by wider evidence from the UK’s Weekly Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) surveillance data, showing track and trace reports from personal services as one of the least prevalent areas.

Additionally, the NI Dept of Health report on 24th September also highlighted that the closure of close contact services (hairdressing, beauty therapy etc) would only potentially reduce the rate of transmission by up to 0.05% with evidence suggesting that in these premises, “masks were effective in stopping transmission”.

In contrast, it is widely accepted that Coronavirus spread more rapidly in areas of Eat Out to Help Out (EOHO) restaurants and infections in those areas slowed after the scheme ended. New research from the University of Warwick suggests that the EOHO scheme may be responsible for around 8%-17% of all new Covid-19 clusters emerging during August and into early September in the UK.

During the first lockdown, the beauty industry trained over 40,000 therapists to be Covid safe.

These measures include pre-screening every client 24 hours before every appointment, temperature checks upon arrival and hand sanitisation. Client belongings are kept in a controlled area that can be sanitised and therapists wear masks and visors throughout treatments. Clients wear masks in all communal areas until they are one-on-one with their therapist. Sanitisation of all contact areas is carried out after every client including door handles, toilets and card payment machines and fresh laundry is provided for every client. Hard surfaces and work areas are sanitised in between every client.

In summary, the measures taken by our industry to keep both staff and clients safe are equal to those taken by the close contact services (dentists, chiropodists, opticians, physiotherapists) that are now allowed to be open during the current lockdown.

The majority of Beauty Therapists are female entrepreneurs, supporting women and contributing over £28 billion to the UK economy.

As we came out of the first lockdown, while the beauty industry were largely ignored, hospitality was allowed to open a month before. We were closed for 3.5 months and greatly restricted for a further a further 2 weeks.

I write this not because I demand to be allowed to operate along other close contact services that are currently operating. I appreciate there has to be a line drawn and as a non-essential service, the beauty industry falls into that category.

I write because I am fearful that we will be ignored once again in favour of hospitality even though the evidence shows we provide a far more Covid-safe environment that a pub, bar or restaurant can ever provide. Please note that I state this with the utmost respect and admiration for the hospitality businesses that have put in Covid-safe restrictions in place. We are all keen to reopen, but the facts are undeniable.

I am therefore seeking a pledge from the Government that it will give our industry the respect it deserves and this time, as we ease out of lockdown, we are recognised for the safe environment we provide and allowed this time, to be at the front of the queue for re-opening.

Please respect beauty and help restore consumer confidence to our industry.

Mel Tozer 
Belle Chic Health and Beauty. Hungerford.

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