Five barbers and hairdresser caught breaching coronavirus rules in Bridgend
Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter
Officials caught five barbers and a hairdresser breaching coronavirus regulations in Bridgend county borough in the weeks after the Welsh Government allowed them to reopen.
Bridgend Council staff temporarily closed one barber shop and gave improvement notices to five other premises between Tuesday March 23 and Saturday March 27.
Officers from the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) issued a closure notice to Ozzy’s Hair Salon, Prince Road, Kenfig Hill on March 26 because staff were not wearing correct PPE, there was no booking system in place and staff were trimming beards. Officials gave them until Monday 29 March to comply with the rules.
SRS staff gave improvement notices to Nali’s Barber Shop (Wyndham Street, Bridgend), Istanbul Barbers (Wyndham Street, Bridgend), Blackout Barbers (Caroline Street, Bridgend), and Klipz Hairdressers (Pisgah Street, Kenfig Hill) on March 23, for not wearing correct PPE. They were given 24 hours to ensure all staff wear both Type IIR face masks and visors while working.
M&M Barbers (Commercial Street, Maesteg) was also issued an improvement notice because staff were not wearing correct PPE and given 24 hours to comply with regulations.
Barbers and hairdressers were allowed to reopen in Wales from Monday March 15, after staying closed from December 28.
They are the first close-contact businesses to be reopened in Wales in 2021 and must operate on an appointment basis only. Hairdressers and barbers must also wear a Type II mask and a clear visor.
The Welsh Government website states barbers and hairdressers can only cut or treat hair on the head and so they are currently not allowed to do beard treatments. The guidelines state these businesses are “amongst the highest of risk settings” if they do not comply with coronavirus regulations.
‘Doing our best’
Sam Webb, who owns Blackout Barbers, said his staff had been caught working with face masks but without visors when the improvement notice was issued. He said staff were wearing visors while cutting hair but did not realise they needed to wear them at all times.
“We are doing our best but it was just one thing that caught us out. Maybe it was my fault for not reading the rules again.”
Mr Webb, who also owns two barber shops in Llanharan and Maesteg, said he has installed social distancing markers and hand sanitiser in all his premises and staff are only taking appointments via bookings.
“We’re doing a lot, especially compared to supermarkets where you can pick something up and put it back and you’re only wearing a mask.
“The environment is safer for the clients because they’re all spaced out and they know what time to come in rather than a walk-in shop that’s crammed full of people.”
Mr Webb said he understands coronavirus regulations need to be followed to keep people safe but they are currently putting financial strain on his business. He said the fact his staff cannot trim beards and must book all clients in advance has cut footfall by around a third.
“Things are just harder now as we’ve got to cut hair while clients are wearing masks and clean in between appointments. I understand why the government is doing these things but for selfish reasons it really does restrict us.
“The bookings are obviously good during the pandemic because they put people at ease. But from a personal perspective and a selfish perspective, we’re taking in less money because we aren’t fitting in as many people.
“Barber shops are known for walk-in barbers and we get a lot of older men coming into the shop who don’t know how to use these apps and book in. Obviously they can also book manually but many of them don’t know that so we’ve lost lots of business because of it.
“I’d rather the older generation could just turn up and get their hair cut like they always have. In the long-term once the pandemic and lockdowns are over, we can go back to walk-ins.
“We’re not allowed to do beards which is another reason why we’re losing money because men really do love their beards. When you’re cutting men’s hair you stand behind them most of the time whereas when you’re doing a beard you are right in front of their face.
“I can see why we aren’t allowed to do it but personally I think we should be able to just because we’re wearing a mask and a visor. If we only take their mask off while doing a beard I still feel like we’re being safe.
“It’s stressing me out no end but we’re getting through it. My staff are not as happy as they were because they’re not earning as much money as they were. It’s just been a really hard year.”
Ahmed Ali, manager of M&M Barber, also said the current regulations have heavily restricted business.
“I don’t see why we can’t do beards as you’re just standing in front of the customer when you do their hair at the same distance when you’re trimming beards. It doesn’t make sense to me. They should either keep us closed completely or let us carry on.”
Mr Ali said beard trimming is a popular service at M&M Barber and without it, business has fallen by around 50% forcing them to limit the number of staff working daily.
“Beards are quite fashionable now so a lot of my customers have their hair cut and beards done at the same time. Now we’re only allowed to do hair and the money we make will hardly cover everything like bills, rent and wages.
“It’s really hard. If we have to carry on like this I don’t think we can keep the business going for long enough.
“I think soon we’ll only be able to have one person in if we aren’t able to do beards. There won’t be enough money to cover the bills and their wages.”
Mr Webb, who has worked in the industry for 14 years, said he has also struggled to keep his staff working full time.
“The first week or two we get loads of appointments because everybody wants a haircut but after the first two week it just goes quiet.
“The year before last we were busy all the time – we were rammed full, one of the busiest barbers about and now we’ve just gone really, really quiet.
“I’m worrying that my staff aren’t making enough money because obviously they’re all self-employed and they’re quiet as well.”
Mr Webb said the Welsh Government has “been a big help” in giving businesses financial support during the pandemic and he received grants for two of his shops over the last year.
But he said some of his staff had not been self-employed long enough to receive furlough payments and had to sign up for Universal Credit.
He also said he did not get any support for a few months for his shop in Maesteg, which he signed a lease for just before the first lockdown in March 2021.
“Other than that the help for my other two shop’s been great, I can’t fault it.
“It’s just been difficult because people have lost their jobs or they’re scared to leave the house.”
Mr Ali said the current restrictions on barbers are unfair and does not believe barbers should have to wear visors at all times.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t wear masks or use hand sanitizer but with visors and not being able to do beards, it’s pointless having the business open as it hardly covers anything.
“I don’t think it makes sense to wear visors. The people who make the rules have no idea. They should have tried working with them themselves and seen how hard it is wearing a mask all day and have a visor on top of that.
“Sometimes when I have the mask on all day I sort of feel dizzy. It’s not easy at all.”
The SRS, a partnership between South Wales Police and Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan councils, carries out checks on licensed premises to ensure they comply with government guidelines.
Businesses are usually given 48 hours to comply with the rules. Failure to comply can result in closure, a fixed penalty notice, or being taken to court.
To date, 93 premises in Bridgend county borough have been caught breaching coronavirus regulations and given improvement notices, according to the SRS website. Seven local businesses have been temporarily closed.
The service has issued 78 improvement notices to businesses in Cardiff and 68 to businesses in the Vale of Glamorgan.
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