A Northern Ireland hairdresser has expressed fears people will travel over the border for a long-awaited haircut following reports that salons will open in the Republic at the end of the month.
The Irish Government is expected to accelerate the reopening of barbers and hairdressers, subject to Covid-19 remaining suppressed, from June 29.
Originally they were earmarked for a July 20 resumption of business.
Beauticians may also be allowed to reopen early under the new plans.
Jason Shankey, the self-styled male grooming expert behind five successful Belfast businesses, said he welcomes the news but that the Northern Ireland Executive must allow the opening of local salons or they risked losing out on business to those across the border.
"It’s already happening with the restaurant trade," he said.
"They announced the reopening of restaurants down south and immediately I could see an explosion on social media of people wanting to go over the border to go out for a meal.
"The same could happen with hair. There’s a lot of ties with the Republic’s economy and there’s a lot of competition.
"If the Republic does one thing and Northern Ireland doesn’t, people are going to move across the border and we’re going to lose out on a lot of business."
He added: "Newry from Belfast is about 45 minutes then you’re over the border and you’re walking into a completely different world.
"It really shouldn’t be like that because Northern Ireland and the Republic’s Covid numbers have been quite similar the whole way through.
"Technically there should be no difference in how the Republic come out of it and how we come out of it because our devolved administration has the power to do it differently from Westminster."
The move in the Republic comes after heavy lobbying from the sector which has argued it has sufficient safety and public health protocols in place.
Shankey called on the Executive to show "leadership" and provide dates for salon owners across Northern Ireland.
"In many other European countries the relaxations to include the opening of hairdressers happened between six to eight weeks of lockdown," he added.
"We’re currently in week 12 and there’s still no word as to when hairdressers might open here."
Shankey does not believe it would be unsafe to open “as long as the right measures are in place with PPE and sanitisation”.
"We’re ready to open," he added.
"We’ve got everything in place to provide a very clinical and clean environment. We could open tomorrow and be as safe as possible. Our measures already exceed what England are proposing so as long as it’s deemed safe, we’re ready for it."