Hairdressers have welcomed plans to relax the two-metre social distancing rule in England as they look to clear a growing backlog of customers.
Salon owners said the changes will help ensure the viability of their business when they are eventually allowed to reopen in England on July 4.
The relaxing of the coronavirus safety measure to “one-metre plus” was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.
Hairdressers said they plan to extend their opening hours due to huge demand, with one London salon claiming to have 2,500 people on its waiting list.
Belle Cannan, 53, co-founder of Salon Sloane, in Chelsea, London, told the PA news agency: “It (the relaxing of the social distancing rules) will help because we are a small salon and only have eight positions.
“Going from two metres to one metre makes it much more of a viable business because you can accommodate more clients, and of course everyone is desperate to come in, especially in the first week to get their hair done.”
Ms Cannan, whose clients include Victoria’s Secret models and former Spice Girl Melanie C, said the changes would allow her salon to increase its capacity from 50% to 75%.
She said staff will wear protective visors and will be required to wipe down chairs and equipment before and after every customer.
Meanwhile, Hellen Ward, co-founder of Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa in Chelsea, London, whose celebrity clients include the Duchess of Cambridge, said there were 2,500 people on the salon’s waiting list.
She told PA that her team was expecting to see a “few bad haircuts” from customers who attempted to trim their own hair during lockdown.
Speaking about the new distancing measures, she said: “It means we can have 46 chairs instead of 23 and therefore we can have twice as many staff on site.
“But salons as a whole, the people I know in the industry, are saying the same thing, that for the first two weeks we are going to stick to the rules as though it is still two-metre distancing.
“The worst thing we could do is release all the (appointment) time slots and then we find we are back in lockdown or the one metre has been upped back to two.”
She said her salon would be opening from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday to clear the back-log of customers.
Hairdressers in Northern Ireland will be able to reopen on July 6, while the Welsh Government is expected to review an official opening date on July 9.
Salons in Scotland are yet to find out when they can reopen.