The Australian hairdressing industry has spoken out about the government's decision to keep them open for business despite shutting down every other beauty profession, saying they're "outraged" and labelling the decision "ridiculous".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tough new measures in the government's strategy to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus last night which saw beauty therapists, tanning, waxing and nail salons as well as tattoo parlours all shut shop in Australia from midnight tonight.
Hairdressers and barbers however, were kept open under a new rule that limits appointments to 30 minutes while adhering to the social distancing limitations of keeping 1.5m from others at all times.
Sandy Chong, CEO of The Australian Hairdressing Council, has slammed the decision and called on the Prime Minister to shut them down too.
"We are totally outraged that the government is putting our hairdressers and our community at risk by keeping us open and with the most outrageous expectations that we will service customers in 30 minutes," Ms Chong told news.com.au.
"You've got 40,000 hairdressers and barbers who are now at risk. If a client comes in for a cut and colour for two hours, that's one client in that time frame. Or if it's 30 minutes, that's four people in two hours. It doesn't make sense, it does not make sense to us."
She went on to explain that it was hard enough to make sure everything was sterilised with hospital grade disinfectant after every client.
"The fact we all have stepped up those cleaning practices so much when its so hard to get hand sanitisers and disinfectant at the moment it just puts everybody at risk. We should be closed."
Ms Chong also explained the AHC said they can't advise any of its members to stand down due to the Fair Work Act, though explained anyone who ran their own business who wanted to close could choose to do so on their own.
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"We need to get really loud on this, we need the government to put us on the list of shut downs."
Katherine Gosson, a hairdresser at Vanity Hair in Jindabyne, echoed this sentiment, telling news.com.au the advice was extremely confusing.
"We're in the same position as any beauty salon or tanning salon where we have that same close contact so I don't know what makes us so different?" she said.
"You're one-on-one with a client, social distancing to have your clients 1.5m apart – I mean, how can you cut hair that far apart? It makes no sense."
Ms Gosson also pointed out that the new rule makes it hard financially as the only service most salons would be able to provide in 30 minutes is a basic cut.
"You wouldn't be doing any colours, blow dries, it's just basic cuts," she said. "It's just a dumb, dumb rule."
She also expressed concern over the fact the new rule meant more clients would be sat in hairdressing chairs, increasing the risk factor.
"It's constant contact with a different person every 30 minutes. It's just ridiculous," she said. "Whoever made that rule up has got no idea what they're talking about."
The backlash from the hairdressing community comes hours after Scott Morrison implemented new limits on businesses from midnight tonight as stage two of the coronavirus lockdown commences.
"We are not unconscious of the real impact these measures are having on the lives of daily Australians so we will continue to do everything we can, both as a federal government and at state government and territory governments around the country, to do all we can to support our people through what is going to be an incredibly difficult time," he said last night.
He said while barbers and hairdresser would remain open there would be new restrictions on time spent in salons, with customer required to spend no more than 30 minutes having their hair done.
"It is very important to strictly manage the social distancing and limitations of the number of people in their premises, so that's four square metres per person," he said.
"On top of that, to restrict the amount of time a patron is in the premise to no more than 30 minutes."
But not everyone in the hairdressing community is up in arms about the new rules, with celebrity hairstylist Anthony Nader, who owns RAW Salon in Surry Hills, telling news.com.au he would be working with the new restrictions.
"I am staying positive and so is my team – this is what we need as a country and we will get through this. In the interim we will stay open and honour the new regulations," he said, explaining he has adapted the level of services on offer.
At the salon people can still go in for blow dries but will need to have freshly washed damp hair, and cuts, which they will perform in the allocated 30 minutes.
"All hair cuts and blow-dry/styling services will be at 50 per cent off for the period of regulations," he added, revealing medical professionals including doctors and nurses – will be welcome for free haircuts while we are still open.
Earlier this week Mark Rippon from the Hair and Beauty Industry Association (HBIP) said current official recommendations are for staff to use personal protective equipment like gloves, aprons and masks if a person is sick.
"We are also clearly recommending if you are unwell to stay away from the workplace and if clients are unwell to reschedule appointments," he said. The issue of whether a face mask should be worn hasn't been specifically addressed by the government at this stage either.