The reopening date of hairdressers and barbers will be confirmed next week as Government awaits further advice from the National Public Health and Emergency Team (NPHET).
Minister for Health Simon Harris told the Dail that NPHET met on Thursday to discuss the country’s third and fourth phase as part of the country’s plan to reopen the economy and society.
Many in the hairdressing sector have called for the reopening of the establishments to be brought forward to June 29, in line with the third phase.
The Irish Hairdresser’s Federation has published a series of measures that can be implemented to protect staff and clients.
Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell said he has received a “huge amount” of queries about the reopening of hairdressers and barber shops in his Limerick constituency.
“I’ve met them quite a number of times and I think they want certainty when they can reopen. They say the earlier the better,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“When do you expect a decision will be made because you will appreciate, apart form the hair salons and barber shops owners, there’s a multitude of the public going around with hair down to their knees and it’s the one area people want to get back to.”
Mr Harris said: “I know this is a serious issue because it’s people’s livelihoods. This is an industry that employees a lot of people in towns, villages and cities across our country and like every other industry, they want certainty as to when they can get back.”
Mr Harris told the Dail that while he will “appreciate” his barber all the more, he understands that for many people there is an element of good mental health associated with hairdressers.
Mr Harris added: “We are now looking at what belongs in each phase – NPHET will provide advice to government on that.
“I presume they started advice on that today and it’s likely government will consider that next week so I am hoping by the end of next week we will have a direct answer to that question in terms of what phase do the remaining sectors fit in.”
Meanwhile, Dublin hairdresser Elaine Sullivan said that while she awaits confirmation of a reopening date, clear advice is needed from health officials on how to safely reopen.
Ms Sullivan, who owns Aviary Lane – which opened in 2012, also said that firm restrictions on capacity “won’t work”.
“If we are told we can only have one client in each time it will reduce my capacity down to 20% which means I will have 57 slots in one week and that’s what we do on a Saturday alone,” she said.
“It would mean getting three clients done in a day.
“I know other hair salons are spending thousands on screens, but we haven’t been told that we need them yet.
“Hairdressers don’t have that kind of money – we live week to week.
“Common sense has to prevail here and we will do what we can to reopen when it’s safe. I would rather wait and not put ourselves in further debt.
“I have 300 people on waiting my list to get their hair done, and one person at a time is not doable.”