Hair salons reopen in Northern Ireland following a two week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown
UPDATE – 11 DECEMBER 2020
The lockdown in Northern Ireland was lifted last night, allowing non-essential retail, including hair salons, to reopen. The ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown ended on Thursday just before midnight, but ministers have warned against a ‘festive free for all’ and stressed the next weeks are ‘crucial’.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: ‘If people want to have a nice Christmas with their family, don’t ruin it by being reckless in the next number of weeks.’
The Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS) is now also open in Northern Ireland. This will provide financial support to newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) whose business is adversely affected by the pandemic and who have not been able to access support from the UK government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
A one-off taxable grant of £3,500 will be provided under the Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme. The scheme will close to applications at 6pm on 7 January 2021. Find out more on NHBF website.
UPDATE – 20 NOVEMBER 2020
Salons in Northern Ireland will close again from Friday 27 November, as ministers have agreed on a new two-week ‘circuit break’ lockdown which will see the closure of all non-essential retail and close-contact services, including hair salons, spas, barbers and mobile hairdressing.
Despite salons only reopening today, 20 November, after a five week lockdown, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “It is clear that a tough, carefully timed, intervention is required to give us the best chance to have a safe and happy Christmas and further into the new year period.”
The NHBF are in contact with the Northern Ireland Executive, and expect further information on financial support packages early next week. Richard Lambert, NHBF chief executive said, “It’s almost inevitable that hair and beauty salons will want cram as much business as they can into the next week, so it’s vital that they remember to #DoItRight to keep themselves, the staff and their clients safe.
“No one wants to be closed a moment longer than necessary, but the growing sense of indecision and about-turns helps no one and is destroying confidence in the Executive. What businesses need from government right now is clear thinking, consistent decision-making and the common sense to confirm financial supports alongside any further restrictions. What we’ve got is the Stormont version of the hokey-cokey.”
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’.