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I'm not sure my Ashburn Image beauty salon in Derry will survive, insists owner

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Rosemary Wright of Ashburn Image in Eglinton

Rosemary Wright of Ashburn Image in Eglinton

Rosemary Wright of Ashburn Image in Eglinton

The owner of one of Londonderry's most prestigious hair and skin clinics, whose business was nearly wiped out in a devastating flood four years ago, fears it may not survive the continued coronavirus lockdown.

Rosemary Wright, of Ashburn Image in the Co Derry village of Eglinton, was hoping restrictions on the hair and beauty industry would be relaxed by the government to allow her to open her premises again, albeit with conditions.

She said her business and many others in the industry may not survive not being able to trade for the summer - the busiest time of the year.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms Wright said: "I was devastated when I saw how far down the plan to lift restrictions on the hair and beauty industry was in the five step plan announced by the government.

"I actually expected to hear that we could reopen and I was ready to do that, but all I can see now is weeks and months of no income and continued outgoings - and there's no business could survive that.

"Spring and summer is the busiest time of the year for me, between weddings and First Communions, so all that additional trade has been lost.

"Even my regular clients make additional appointments during the summer - getting ready for summer holidays or even if they don't go anywhere, people wear less clothes so they want their skin to look its best.

"If we have to stay shut until September or October, I won't get that business back and while I know I could fill my appointment book from 8am to 11pm when I do open, that will only last a couple of weeks. This is the second natural disaster that has temporarily closed Ms Wright's business, inflicting a hefty financial cost on her. She said: "My business was almost lost in the severe flood that hit in 2017 when we lost equipment that cost thousands of pounds, but we managed to survive that and get back on our feet again.

"I have gone to considerable expense buying additional personal protection equipment that would keep my staff and customers safe, which is already part and parcel of the hair and beauty business.

"Sterilising equipment and maintaining high levels of cleanliness and sanitation is something we do every minute of every day, but I already have plans ready about how to reduce the number of people in the salon at any one time, but we need the go-ahead from the government."

Ms Wright said that while continuing the lockdown has obvious repercussions for her business, it is also having an impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of her clients.

She added: "I am taking daily phone calls and messages from clients who are patiently waiting for me to open my doors again and it will be the same for every other hairdresser and beauty therapist.

"We are in the business of not just making people look better but feel better too and my customers are telling me they feel miserable. They need their hair and their beauty treatments.

"I have a list of 150 clients who all want me to ring them first as soon as we open.

"I have even had people telling me they will come to the salon and put their hands or their feet through the window - just so they can feel pampered.

"While that sounds funny, there is a serious side to it, because the longer this goes on, the bigger the toll on people's mental health."

Belfast Telegraph