Close contact services hit by closures as industry waits to discover details of planned financial support
Salons in Northern Ireland will close for four weeks from Friday 16 October, following the reveal of the closure of close contact services by the Northern Irish Executive. This includes hair, barbering and mobile hairdressing, unless there is an essential medical need for these services.
The NHBF has said that it is pressing the Northern Ireland Government for urgent clarification on what financial support will be available to the hair and beauty sector. First Minister Arlene Foster had said details on support plans would be revealed on Thursday 15 October.
“We are facing the tough reality of rapidly rising rates of infection,” said Foster. “The Executive has given careful and painstaking consideration of the right blend of actions that will do maximum damage to the virus but minimum harm to life chances today and tomorrow.
“We understand that these interventions will be hard but they will not be in place for a moment longer than they need to be. I would ask everyone to work with us to save lives and protect our health service.”
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NHBF said: “It is hugely disappointing that this announcement has been made without any mention of specific financial support. ” He outlined that urgent assurances were needed from the Northern Ireland Executive that as a minimum they would be providing cash grants for businesses required to close in local lockdowns similar to that of the rest of the UK (England is up to £3,000 per month for each business forced to close).
“The hair and beauty industry is already under immense strain and many salon and barbershop owners are worried about the survival of their businesses, and the jobs of their employees. People could potentially be closing on Thursday evening without knowing if they will have a business to return to,” he added.
The NHBF has continued to lobby the UK government and those in the devolved nations to demonstrate that the reopening of close contact services such as those within hair and beauty has not contributed to the current rise in Coronavirus cases. In recent NHBF poll, an overwhelming 96% of salons and barbershops in Northern Ireland had not been contacted via Test, Trace and Protect (4,107), with only 186 (4%) responding ‘Yes’.