Hairdressers, along with other beauty salons, are allowed welcome customers back again from Monday 12 April across England.
Close contact services have been closed since the third national lockdown was imposed on 5 January.
In Scotland, hairdressers and barber shops reopened on Easter Monday, while in Wales they reopened on 15 March.
Can you still book a haircut?
Many hairdressers will be fully booked, considering how popular hairdressing services were when they reopened last summer, with reports of people lining up outside salons at midnight to ensure they were first in line for an appointment.
Depending on what services your local hairdresser offers, you might still be able to secure an appointment now to ensure that you have a confirmed booking in the coming weeks.
Non-essential shops are now allowed to stay open until 10pm, so check with your local hairdressers to see if you might be able to get a late-night appointment.
What rules will hairdressers have to abide by when they reopen?
Hairdressers, barbers and other “close contact services” are some of the hardest for the government to reopen due to the proximity between customers and employees. When they were permitted to open for services in July, that included treatments that “relate to cutting or treating hair on the head” but did not include services like nail salons and tanning.
As social distancing is not possible when having your hair done, your hairdresser will likely have to wear a visor according to the government’s rules. Last time around, the National Hair and Beauty Federation also discouraged talking, and hairdressers were told to keep hair-cutting time to a minimum, and any face-to-face discussions will have to be side-to-side.
How safe are hairdressers and barbers?
Dr Simon Clarke, professor in microbiology at University of Reading, says: “You’re in close proximity to someone so there is a certain amount of risk - if they [hairdresser] are carrying the virus then a visor isn’t going to offer you complete protection because when they talk or breathe out that is directed downwards. There is no simple answer to these things you’ve got to weigh up the risks for yourself.”
Dr Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University and on the Department of Health’s Nervtag (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Group), which advises the Chief Medical Officer on the threat posed by new viruses, says: “Hairdressers do not spend a lot of time face-to-face with customers, the interaction is through the mirror normally. In a sense the customer’s best protection is having confidence in the standards of these places which are used to being sterile anyway.”
What can you do to keep safe when hairdressers reopen?
Wear a face mask - if you can. This is compulsory unless you’re medically exempt.
Consider getting a hairdresser to come to your house. Dr Clarke says that reduces risk in terms of lessening the number of people you come into contact with - but then you run the risk of that person bringing the virus into your home. You might want to consider an al-fresco garden cut if it isn’t raining, as the transmission risk is always lower outside.
Be aware of what you touch. Once again the best way to keep yourself safe is to rely on the basic principles the government has been reiterating for months, mostly keeping your hands clean. Dr Clarke recommends taking a bottle of hand sanitiser. You might want to take a book or paper of your own - make sure you are sensible about where you touch or put things down - including your mobile phone.