Hairdressers reluctant to reopen despite government’s greenlight


Albert Lim

MIRI: Many hairdressers and salon operators here are still reluctant to reopen their doors, even with the greenlight from the federal government and also the high demand for their services during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Albert Lim Jen Yong, 30, said his hair studio would remain closed until April 28 – the last day of the third phase of MCO, as customer safety remained his utmost priority.

“The MCO has put the hairdressers’ profession to a great test. Nevertheless, it is absurd for us to open our shop just to cut (hair) as many are still in fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus,” said the Kuching-based hairdresser.

Lim pointed out that haircuts were unlike making purchases, which could be done in just a few minutes.

Charles Doll Stanley

“It is a face-to-face, close-range service. It is impossible to maintain a distance of one metre during haircutting. Both hairdresser and customer are in a state of being easily infected by the virus,” he said.

However, Lim noted that issues such as rental and other commitments might leave some barbers or hairdressers with no choice but to reopen their shops.

“This is the dilemma that the majority of the hairdressers are facing now, including myself,” he added.

Last Friday, in announcing a two-week extension to the MCO until April 28, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a number of additional services would be allowed to operate subject to strict conditions.

Sylvia Tremas

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry, in a subsequent statement, said besides barbershops, other sectors allowed to operate would be registered traditional medicine services, hardware shops, electrical and electronic shops, optometry shops, and full-service laundry

Companies listed under these sectors could submit their applications to the ministry via, beginning today (April 13) from 9am.

Meanwhile, hairstylist and makeup artist Charles Doll Stanley, 28, concurred with Lim that it was not yet safe to reopen hair salons.

“It is impossible to adhere to the rules of social distancing during the haircut process. It is also not easy to sanitise the tools for customers after each hair service session,” he said.

He said even though the decision to reopen would benefit operators in terms of earnings, he would rather not do so for safety’s sake.

“It’s OK (to stay closed) – life is more important than money for now.”

For regular salon-goer Sylvia Tremas, she agreed that barbershops and hair salons ought to remain closed until the lifting of the MCO.

“The most important thing for now is to stay alive. The purpose of the MCO is to save lives, not appearance.

“Haircuts should not be listed as an essential service; the same goes for optometry and hardware stores. Some things can still be purchased online,” said the 40-year-old sales manager.

Sylvia felt that the permission to reopen such businesses would only lead to greater risk of infection, as more people would now be out and about in public places.