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Coronavirus: Barbers slam hairdressers who are still operating during lockdown


Garry Jackson

Garry Jackson

Garry Jackson

Three Northern Ireland barbers have hit out at those still operating on the black market during the lockdown.

Most barber shops closed before the government shutdown on March 23 yet some are still advertising home visits or accepting appointments from clients to visit their premises.

The National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF) has warned hairdressers and barbers that they should not be operating under any circumstances until the government gives them the green light. It is not expected to be included in Boris Johnson's revision of coronavirus restrictions to be announced on Sunday.

Yet the NHBF said its members have been bombarded with requests for "lockdown cuts" from clients pleading with stylists to break restrictions.

They include Garry Jackson (57) who runs Garry's Barber Shop in Holywood and has been in business for 31 years.

He said he is heartbroken to see some barbers blatantly breaking the law, possibly transmitting the virus and charging over-inflated prices for their services, without being insured or paying tax.

"My wife Mari is a former nurse and knew about the dangers of cross contamination and infection so we closed our business on March 17 and furloughed all our staff," Garry said.

"What these other guys are doing is so wrong on every level but especially to those hard working barbers who have done the right thing. It's illegal and immoral and I just don't understand why anyone would put themselves in that crazy situation."

His view is shared by Neal Toner (32), of JFH Social in Belfast and Newcastle.

Neal Toner

Neal said: "This is an industry that I'm extremely passionate about and how I make my living so for once we are all in the same boat in terms of money worries. But those who are stepping out of our tribe to make a quick buck are potentially spreading this virus, bringing death to someone's door and prolonging my chance of getting back to work to provide for my own family.

"In my 11 years in the business the longest I had ever been closed prior to this was four days due to a power cut.

"Having been in the salon over the last two nights to consider how we might safely return, it's a really eerie feeling when the place should be full of energy, music, craic and chat."

Gregg McNeil (33) of Bareknuckle Barbers in Londonderry added: "It's so frustrating to see some barbers still working away when businesses like mine have been closed for several weeks.

"If we all followed suit and stayed shut for the sake of everyone's safety then this would be over sooner and we could all get back to work.

"Every day I'm getting calls and messages being offered stupid amounts of money which I find really insulting because these people obviously aren't worried about either their safety or mine."

In a letter to members urging them not to flout restrictions, the NHBF said: "This would be against the government's strict social distancing instructions which say you must stay at home apart from essential travel.

"We need to do all we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also - please bear in mind that your insurance will probably not cover you if you normally work in a salon or barbershop."

Salons in the Republic of Ireland will not reopen until July 20, according to the Irish government's roadmap for easing restrictions.

However RTE reported earlier this week that hairdressers are being offered up to four times the usual price for a haircut, with treatments that usually cost between €40 (£35) and €50 (£43) seen for €200 (£175) on the black market.

Belfast Telegraph