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COVID-19 closure: Endless wait for barbers, beauty parlours

15 Jul 2020 By SHADDAD AL MUSALMY

Barber shops and beauty parlours have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be one of the most affected business activities since the precautionary measures were set in motion in the sultanate in March.

The closure of this business activity has not only broken the spirit of barbers and beauticians, who depend on daily earnings for a livelihood, it has also left customers in the lurch. Customers, male and female, can’t wait to get a grooming session at one of the parlours as do-it-yourself hair cuts have messed up their appearances for the past three months.

“It is not always easy to cut your hair at home. It has been so hectic for me, and I wish parlours could be allowed to reopen; of course, with precautionary measures. It has been my prayer for the past month and every week passes by with hope. I also feel for the barbers who depend only on their shops for their daily bread,” Fuad al Farsi, a private sector employee, said.

The same is true for beauty parlours. “Each week I wait for the news of reopening. There are so many services that women avail at these parlours and closing them for a long time was not a good idea. I love pampering myself at least once every month. I would not want to go against the law by calling parlour staff at home. We all know, COVID-19 is still there, so one has to take precautions,” Salha Abdullah, an office clerk, said.

The urgency to reopen both, barber shops and beauty parlours, is not seen among consumers but service providers, too, who say they have been having a rough time to make ends meet as their businesses are closed endlessly.

“Our business has suffered a lot, and just like other businesses, I think it is time for us to be allowed to reopen. The wait has been so long. We understand the virus is still very active but there are precautions that can be taken and beauty parlours are not exceptions,” Asila Abdullah, a beauty parlour owner in Seeb, said.

Mohammad Ihasan, a barber based in Muscat, said that COVID-19 has also caused him to suffer mentally. “The shop I was manning was my lifeline. Now, I am finding it difficult to make both ends meet. Moreover, I also had pending rent to pay. Luckily, my landlord agreed to waive off part of the rent after my sponsor convinced him,” he said.

“Life hasn’t been easy for me because it was my only income and now I am looking forward to the government to allow us to reopen, so that I can cater to my basic needs. I’m sure there are safe ways to conduct business by wearing masks, gloves and other protective gear. There is a solution for every problem,” he added.

In one of the press conferences of the Supreme Committee, H E Ahmed bin Abdullah al Shuhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities, said that barbershops and beauty salons are not open because the nature of their work is such that they pose a grave risk of transmitting the virus.

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