Local barber wants sector reopened for two-week window

The owner of a Roscommon barbershop is calling on the Government and public health experts to allow the hairdressing and barbering industry to reopen for a period of two weeks, claiming that failure to do so would lead to further Covid-19 outbreaks.

Robbie Connaughton, who is the proprietor of Barber Bob’s in Monksland, has written to Taoiseach Micheál Martin as well as members of NPHET, urging them to consider his proposal.

Mr. Connaughton claims that there is increased pressure on business owners to reopen and that the continued closure of personal services will lead to mental health implications for many people.

He added that those working in the industry cannot continue to survive on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment alone and this will lead to a ‘black market’ for hair services. Mr. Connaughton argues that this ‘black market’ could contribute to the spread of the virus.

In his letter, he states: ‘The reality is that customers frequenting barber shops and hairdressers are extremely well protected from Covid-19. During the periods we were permitted to open there were zero Covid-19 outbreaks associated with my own shop, and there is a clear lack of evidence of any outbreaks connected to the hairdressing and barbering industry.

‘We are one of the few sectors within the hospitality and retail sectors where both customers and staff members are wearing a mask for the entire duration of the visit. This is along with hand sanitisation at entry and exit points and the additional cleaning protocols that have been put in place.

‘Indeed, this industry has long been familiar with the need for sanitisation which pre-dates Covid-19’.

Mr. Connaughton wrote that while he understands how difficult it would be to introduce different rules for various sectors, he feels consideration should be given to the public health measures put in place at hairdressers and barbers.

‘I am proposing a two-week window during which barbers and hairdressers would be allowed to reopen with strict health measures in place. This would be workable as this sector does not have the concern of ordering in too much or too little stock, which could be the case for others in the retail and hospitality sector’.

Mr. Connaughton said he hopes his proposal receives serious consideration from both the Taoiseach’s office and the National Public Health Emergency Team and that the sector can reopen earlier than expected.