By Helena Biggs | 19 October 2020 | Movers & Shakers, News.
Coronavirus: Northern Ireland’s first minister has announced that close contact services – including hair, beauty, barbering and mobile businesses – must close for four-weeks from Friday 16 October for a four-week period.
Arlene Foster told her Assembly colleagues: “We wish to provide members with an update on decisions that the Executive has taken in relation to essential actions needed to reduce Covid-19 transmission rates.
“It is with this in mind, along with the very worrying increase in numbers of cases and hospitalisations that we have looked at the various levels of restrictions that we need now.
“We all have a role to break this chain, and it’s important that we all understand this.”
“People pass Covid onto each other, and that happens in a variety of settings and limiting our social contacts will play a role in breaking the chain.”
Adding that the Executive has ‘not taken the decision lightly’, it was confirmed that from 16 October, there will be ‘closure of close contact services apart from those meeting essential health needs which will be defined in the regulations to ensure continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics. This will not include complementary treatments.’
The NHBF is pressing the Northern Ireland government for urgent clarification on what financial support will be available to the hair and beauty sectors and how this will be made available for those who most need it.
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NHBF comments: “It is hugely disappointing that this announcement has been made without any mention of specific financial support. We urgently need assurances from the Northern Ireland Executive that as a minimum they will be providing cash grants for businesses required to close in local lockdowns similar to that of the rest of the UK (England is up to £3,000 per month for each business forced to close).
“The hair and beauty industry is already under immense strain and many salon and barbershop owners are worried about the survival of their businesses, and the jobs of their employees. People could potentially be closing on Thursday evening without knowing if they will have a business to return to.”
The NHBF has continued to lobby the UK government and those in the devolved nations to demonstrate that the reopening of close contact services such as those within hair and beauty has not contributed to the current rise in Coronavirus cases. In recent NHBF poll, an overwhelming 96% of salons and barbershops in Northern Ireland had not been contacted via Test, Trace and Protect (4,107), with only 186 (4%) responding ‘Yes’.