APPG Comment: The Telegraph, ‘The beauty sector needs to reopen urgently. Boris’s decision was flippant and is costing women jobs’

As the Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, we are acutely aware of the devastating impact the lockdown has had on the beauty and wellbeing sector. Salons and therapists have not been in work for months, they are anxious to take every step to ensure they are able to reopen safely, and there have been many stories of practitioners working despite the lockdown and the obvious risks this presents.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced the very welcome news that hairdressers and barbershops can reopen on 4th July. But, the beauty sector or ‘nail bars’ as it was referred to by the PM, was left in the dark with no clarity as to when it may be able to open, putting the future of many businesses at risk and leaving many thousands of practitioners with no prospect of a return to much needed employment.

We know representatives from across the hair, beauty, spa and wellness industries have worked incredibly hard to put together guidelines to support their businesses to reopen safely and give staff and customers the confidence they need to start seeking treatments again.

As their doors remain firmly shut, with limited access to cash flows, and no certainty on when they will be able to welcome back clients, thousands of jobs and businesses may not survive the continued lockdown.

Hairdressers too may not be able to open whilst the beauty services are off limits. With thousands of salons in the UK offering integrated hair and beauty services, there is risk that many find it is not financially viable to open only half their operations. When factoring in the increased financial burdens facing salons, from increased hygiene and PPE costs to reduced appointments to allow for social distancing, we are hearing that for some reopening may just not be possible.  

This will almost certainty have a disproportionate impact on the high number of women working in the industry. The multi-faceted hair and beauty industry provides many women with a path to fulfill entrepreneurial ambitions and start up their own businesses, or enjoy the flexibility needed to support themselves and their families by working part-time or being self-employed. 

The Government has provided neither logic nor reason to back up its decision to not allow beauty salons to reopen. While many comparable industries are trusted to start up operations and uphold health and safety standards to reduce transmission of the virus, beauty is left out in the cold.

Government has gone so far as to publish guidance on ‘close contact working’ which covers all hair, beauty, spa and wellness facilities, yet it has only given the green light to the minority of these services to open.

The Prime Minister’s flippant reference to ‘nail bars’ in the Commons strongly suggests that he does not take this industry seriously.

The service side of the hair and beauty industry alone contributes a massive £6.6bn to the UK economy, which is at least 8% of the value generated by the whole retail sector. It also employs over 300,000 people across almost 50,000 businesses and provides over 16,500 apprenticeships. 

Salons are the cornerstone of our struggling high streets up and down the country and play a vital role in supporting the local economies and communities they serve. It is also not just about looking good – being able to get our beauty or hair treatments done plays a big part in supporting all of our mental, social and physical wellbeing.

This is an industry in crisis. We are not asking the Government to take any risks but they must act consistently and urgently take steps, within clear guidelines, to reopen the beauty, spa and wellness business sector in this country alongside hairdressers, and provide immediate clarity to those in the sector on when they will be allowed to do so.  

You can read the Chair’s article in full here.