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Interview: Staying safe at Salon 103, Wallasey

This month restrictions on ‘close contact’ services were relaxed, following new guidance published by the UK Government.

The new guidance means that many people and businesses providing services such as hairdressers, barbers, beauticians and more have been able to reopen their doors to customers, with some key changes to the way that they work.

We spoke to local hair and beauty salon owner Debbie Edwards Hughes about the changes she’s put in place at Salon 103, Wallasey, what it means for business and how customers can do their bit…

Q: Debbie, tell us what sort of changes you’ve brought into Salon 103.

Debbie: To be really honest, I was nervous about coming back to work after the lockdown. I didn’t know what to expect and if we’d be able to work around any restrictions. So, we’ve taken it really seriously here. All of our staff are wearing visors and other protective equipment when dealing with clients, in addition to shields when having to work face-to-face cutting fringes or doing nails. We have our doors open for ventilation and hand sanitiser at each station. As customers enter, we have our posters up about hand hygiene and a big bottle of hand sanitiser by the front door that anyone who steps into the shop needs to use – or soap and water if they prefer. I’m even temperature checking clients when they enter and myself every four hours. I just think, you can’t be too careful.

Our towels are washed after individual use, as they would be anyway really! But additionally we’re rubbing down all surfaces, equipment, chairs and products that we use after every client we see and popping equipment into sealed bags to avoid contamination.

We’re keeping products and equipment out of the main shop area to reduce the numbers of surfaces we need to clean – so we unfortunately don’t have all of our lovely nail polishes out on show anymore.

I’m also only booking one client at a time, or one ‘bubble’ so people from the same household can come at the same time – it just feels much safer for me, staff and the customers.

Q: How are you adapting to the changes?

Debbie: I think we’re doing really well. Obviously, there’s a lot to remember and it can feel a bit weird at times but it’s really made us think critically about how we work, where the risk points are, and what ideas of our own we can bring in to stay safe. I took a COVID-19 certification with Barbicide Professional Beauty Industry training to make sure I was doing as much as I could.

We’re booking 15/30 min gaps between appointments now to make room for the extra cleaning between clients. And, as we’re always trying to reduce waste – we’ve given each client their own individual nail file pack for them to take home and bring back – obviously we can’t sanitise the files in the same way we would with other equipment, but it seems a waste to throw them out. If they bring back their own files, we can reuse them and sanitise our hands before and after so we’re keeping safe but also thinking of the environment.

Q: How are customers responding?

Debbie: When people ring to book in, I explain all of the things we’ll need them to do and what they can expect when they come in. For example, I’m asking everybody to wear a mask or face covering unless they have an underlying health issue which makes it difficult for them. And I’d say 99% of our customers understood it all straight away – it might feel a bit over the top but if it’s not much effort and it keeps us safe, why not?

A couple of clients have initially refused to wear a face covering, but changed their mind when I say that I won’t be able to see them without one. I think it’s a small price to pay to get your roots done, especially after months inside!

We’re really pleased with how customers are embracing the changes, a lot of our clients are longstanding, we see each other week in, week out in usual circumstances so I care about their health and they care about ours. After a while, it starts to become the norm.

When they’re actually in the chair, it’s really similar to how we usually work – it's just a bit safer for all of us.

Q: How can customers support you and other businesses?

Debbie: Of course, if customers have had any symptoms of Coronavirus, they should let us know and unfortunately, we won’t be able to see them – as they should be staying home!

But really, I think just being understanding of the changes, and the pressures they bring, the staff is a big one. We’re trying to do our jobs, after weeks of uncertainty, and with a big long list of new rules and regulations to remember. Understanding and patience from clients is a massive help – I’m grateful that that’s how it’s been for us since we reopened.

Thanks for speaking with us Debbie and, stay safe.