Hairdressers will help 'stabilise' a stressed SA, salons argue in a fight against lockdown

Business Insider SA

Hairdressing: not allowed
  • An advocate representing hairdressers in a fight against lockdown rules says hairdressers provide a psychological need in the community and contributed "towards a stable and constructive society".
  • Haircutting services are banned under lockdown rules, and until recently there was little indication that salons would be able to open any time soon.
  • But a group of hair professionals say they act as "makeshift counsellors" to their clients, and can manage the risk of Covid-19.
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South African hairdressers say they serve an important psychological need, and should be allowed to reopen their salons so that they can again contribute to a stable and constructive society – particularly during the stressful lockdown period.

A Cape Town advocate, Carlo Viljoen, earlier this month lodged papers with the High Court in Cape Town to compel the South African government to allow hairdressers to return to business.

Viljoen says he represents the interests of an estimated 210,000 haircare professionals.

Government regulations have previously made it clear that there is to be no professional haircutting until the declaration of Alert Level 1 of the national Covid-19 lockdown. Until date there has been little sign of a relaxation in that attitude, even as other sectors, notable e-commerce, have had restrictions lifted.

The danger of contracting Covid-19 was too serious to allow for haircutting, given that there was “no social distancing” in salons, minster of cooperative government and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in late April.

Besides the practical service offered by hairdressers, Viljoen says in his founding affidavit, hairdressers provided a psychological need in the community and this contributed “towards a stable and constructive society".

The state needed to consider this, especially given the pressures associated with the lockdown, he argues.

There was evidence to demonstrate that “hairdressers act like makeshift counsellors for many clients" according to Viljoen.

Salon workers are an essential channel between members of the community and services such as family violence shelters, he adds.

“South African are mature people who are able to think for themselves, and I respectfully submit that measures based on individuals taking responsibility, would be much more accommodating to the wellbeing and best interest of the society as a whole rather than imposing on them draconian imprisonment that is exposing them to financial doom,” Viljoen says.

You can wear a mask while getting a haircut

Hairdressers can mitigate the risk of salons spreading the coronavirus through administrative, environmental, engineering, and personal protection measures, Viljon says.

“The industry knows how to deal with infectious diseases and has been through the HIV/Aids pandemic, swine flu, SARSvirus and the like.”

Hairdressers, he says, "are well trained and experienced in sanitation and creating hygienic environments."

Salon clients could wait outside with appropriate social distancing in place like the queues that develop outside supermarkets, Viljoen says, and can monitor clients for fever.

Hairdressers can put in place procedures for the proper removal of waste such as tissues, masks, and hair he says, and pay attention to ventilation.

Both salon customers and employees can masks, he argues.

Viljoen applied for an interim interdict to allow hairdressers to work at level 4. “Urgent relief is required to prevent a disaster,” he says.

Viljoen estimates that there are 90,000 registered hairdressers and about 120,000 unregistered hairdressers in South Africa, injecting about R250 billion a year into the local economy.

Hairdressers were unable to pay their rent or meet their other financial commitments, and they were “running dangerously low” when it comes to feeding themselves and their dependents, he says.

Business Insider South Africa couldn’t reach Lwazi Manzi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, for comment, or for answering papers in the matter.

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