Beauticians, physiotherapists and tattooists were among the businesses able to operate when the country moved to alert level 2 last week. Te Puke Times editor Stuart Whitaker spoke to beautician Diana Brooke, physiotherapist Neil Barback and tattooist Ryan Brooke.

Diana Brooke owner of Define Beauty.

Diana opened Define Beauty last Friday - and says she could hardly sleep that night.

''It was amazing to see people - I was buzzing at the end of the day we opened. It was pretty cool and were people trying to hug me [but couldn't]. It's very hard when you are a huggy person.''

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She says since before she reopened ''the phone has been going crazy''.

Apart from selling some skin care products on line, there has been little Diana could do for clients until last week.


''I tried to get innovative and to think of ways of letting people know what they can do at home, but I think people love that connection and they want to come in and talk to you and see you - that's the difference between us and perhaps a retail store.''

The most popular treatments have been brows and permanent hair removal - followed by nails.

Diana says in reality little has changed in terms of the operation of the business

''Obviously there are some new protocols with people coming in and washing their hands and we are only dealing with our clients one at a time, but in beauty therapy I feel like the normal is we're so conscious of hygiene - it's a little bit different, but I always feel we have been on the ball with hygiene anyway.''

There is no compulsion for clients or therapists to wear masks, but there are some on hand if clients want to wear them or ask that therapists do.

''Ninety-nine per cent of people have said 'no' they don't want a mask, but we do like to give them options because there are some scared people.''

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Te Puke Physiotherapy owner Neil Barback.
Te Puke Physiotherapy owner Neil Barback.

Neil Barback - owner Te Puke Physiotherapy

While Neil had been able to do some consultations via telephone and video links, he was able to reopen the practice last Thursday.

He says it has been busy ever since.

''We were keeping in contact with some clients over lockdown by phone and over video calls and doing some treatments that way,'' he says. ''I was happy we could provide a service.

''There are aspects you can do like exercise and posture advice and self management, but certain thing's you can't and I was itching to do hands on treatments that I knew would help [clients] quite a bit, but obviously wasn't able to do that.

''It was a relief that we were able to get back trading and help people out. We'd had people on the phone who were quite desperate to be seen by a physio and quite upset that they couldn't. I do feel for those people but do understand the reasoning behind the lockdown.''

People started calling soon after the announcement was made that therapists could open from May 14.

Changes in the practice include fewer chairs in the waiting room to allow social distancing, staggered appointment times and changing pillow cases after each consultation.

''If we are treating around head or neck then we will wear PPE.''

He says people are accepting of the changes.

''Particularly clients that have been before and are used to the way we run things are finding it slightly different, but people are good and willing to adapt to the changes.

"Some are a bit wary which means we wear more PPE than is actually required but we are prepared to do that to help put people at ease.''

Ryan Brooke of Virtuoso Tattoos

Ryan's biggest issue has been trying to find replacement appointments for those he had to cancel during alert levels 4 and 3.

''All my stuff is bookings and at the moment probably five or six months in advance.

''All those people who have missed out, I have had to reshuffle them and find extra gaps and book them in later in the year - that's just how it had to be.''

He says from a hygiene point of view, in reality little has changed.

''It's kind of a tricky one. If someone wants me to wear a mask I have stuff there, but I can't really tattoo and be 2m away from them - so I just really have to make sure nobody's sick before coming in.

''Every client, everything's always wiped down and prepped and you are wearing gloves anyway and everything is disinfected, the area you are working on is disinfected so it's a very clean sterile thing to begin with.''