Leeds lockdown lifting: How the city's hair and beauty salons are keeping clients safe as they reopen
Leeds hairdressers, beauty salons and other personal care services will resume business today as lockdown restrictions ease.
Under step two of the Government's road map out of lockdown, salons will welcome back clients for the first time since the third national lockdown was announced in January.
It's been a challenging year for the hair and beauty industry, with some Leeds salon owners fearing they will "never recover" from the financial impact of the pandemic.
Salons have been inundated with bookings and are preparing for a busy few weeks ahead as people scramble for a long-awaited haircut or nail appointment.
The industry has forked out thousands of pounds on Covid-secure measures since it reopened last summer following the first lockdown.
At Leeds city centre salon Tint, co-owner Matthew Sutcliffe said his priority was making sure clients feel safe when they visit.
Tint introduced strict Covid-19 protocols early on the in the pandemic, such as social distancing, wearing a mask, deep cleans and floor markers.
The salon will this time also be increasing its air ventilation and embarking on regular Covid-19 testing of the staff team.
Carl Thompson, owner of The Opposition hairdressing salon in Cross Gates, said the vast majority of businesses in Leeds have gone "above and beyond" to follow government guidelines.
He said: "Most hairdressers have taken this really seriously, we’ve gone to the ends of the earth to implement as many safety measures as we can reasonably afford.
"We’ve taken every precaution and followed the letter of the law, our staff wear full PPE and we've had many Treatwell reviews praising our Covid safety measures.
"Having a haircut is about the experience - it was the little things like cups of tea and biscuits, but now the experience is all about feeling safe while having the services done."
Becky Wendel, owner of Boheme Hair and Beauty Boutique in Farsley, said salons are the only places that some older clients have felt safe to visit this year.
She said: "Our job is far more than cutting hair or painting nails. We’re not trained counsellors, but that’s what we spend a lot of time doing.
“From a mental health perspective, it’s a huge thing for customers - some elderly customers still haven’t seen family members but they have come into the salon because they feel it’s a safe environment, just having that interaction with somebody is huge."
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