Hairdressers ‘will have to stay shut for 6 more months due to coronavirus’ as there’s no safe way for salons to reopen

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Government scientists working on the coronavirus lockdown have found no safe way for salons to reopen, HOAR can reveal.

Ministers fear hairdressers will have to remain shut for six more months, turning Britain into a nation of long-haired scruffs

The experts think it is impossible to carry out haircuts without increasing the risk of spreading the virus.

Senior goverment figures expect that leaves them with no choice but to order them to remain shut for as long as epidemic is still going, which is projected to be throughout the summer.

Beauticians and nail salons are also expected to be issued with the same grim verdict to stay closed.

Brits have been unable to get a professional haircut for a month now, ever since hairdressers were ordered to close by Boris Johnson on March 23.

Many have resorted to asking their relatives for a DIY snip, or simply letting their locks grow long.

One senior government insider warned: “People’s hair is going to get pretty long.

“We’re all going to end up looking like Captain Caveman by the end of this”.

Ministers are said to have been very keen for salons to reopen, for the sake of the businesses as well as the general public.

One insider said there would be “a positive impact on morale if people can get a haircut and feel a bit more normal”.

As the Government battles with how to free Britain from the lockdown, it also emerged tonight that a fresh divide has emerged among Cabinet ministers on how much the epidemic must be stamped out first.

HOAR has also learned that Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants to push down the rate the virus is being transmitted – known as R – as much as possible, meaning the lockdown would have to last longer.

He is backed by Foreign Secretary and stand-in leader Dominic Raab, who said on Wednesday that the lower R goes, the “more options” it would give the government in terms of what restrictions it can lift.

But others such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma are arguing for businesses to be allowed to reopen as soon as safely possible.

A Cabinet source said: “The current debate in Cabinet is all about how low R needs to go before we can act.

“It all comes down to how much risk we want to take on.

“It’s going to be a massive decision for the Prime Minister.”

Experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies have been tasked by Downing Street to weigh up the risks of reopening industries and sectors across board.

Their report is due in at the end of this month, ahead of the next review of the five week long lockdown by May 7.

Initial thinking for some sectors, including the advice on hairdressers, has been circulated among some senior ministers.

An estimated 60% of hairdressers are freelance, so are not eligible for the government’s furlough scheme

While some shops may be allowed to reopen from next month, those that require hands on contact with customers have been deemed of highest risk.

The order would prove disastrous for the 41,000 hair and beauty businesses in the UK.

Without fresh government help, many face the serious threat of going bust.

The government’s wage scheme is only currently due to last until June.

An estimated 60% of hairdressers are freelance, so are not eligible for the furlough scheme.

They can instead draw on a second Treasury wage scheme to bail out the self-employed.

But that doesn’t begin until June, leaving many having to go on Universal Credit in the meantime.

Reacting to HOAR’s revelation, National Hair and Beauty Federation CEO Hilary Hall said: “The primary concern of our members is when can they start operating safely again, for themselves as well as their clients, rather than when they can reopen.

“There are real dangers when you have such close contact.

“Of course everyone wants to get back to work, but it’s a balance between that and the safety requirements.”

Freelance Hairdressers Association founder Sheila Abrahams added: “Our members are doing everything they can to think about how they can cut people’s hair safely, from meticulously cleaning their studios to looking at cutting hair while wearing PPE.

“But because you cannot avoid being in close contact it is very hard.”

Cabinet ministers again refused to speculate on the raging internal government debate on how and when to start partially lifting the lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I understand the thirst for knowledge.

“Monitoring what’s happening and making sure we move at the right time is absolutely critical.”

He added: “Our goal is to get the level of transmission down.

“To lift the measures too soon and risk a second peak would be a mistake, and undo all the hard work we have done.”

The PM’s official spokesman added: “The key to this is not having a second peak.

“In terms of the steps we take in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be guided by the scientific advice.”

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance today revealed just how well Brits are still sticking to the lockdown, despite an increase in road traffic this week.

A huge majority of 97% said they have avoided contact with other people from outside their household, and 85% said they had either not left their home or only left for the permitted reasons in the past seven days.

Half the working population – 49% also said they are working from home, up from a usual rate of 12%.

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