Fringe benefits return as salons open up

LAST week, as lockdown was eased across England, thousands of us were able to visit pubs, restaurants and hairdressers.

At last, we could enjoy a socially distanced pint with friends, grab a meal we hadn’t had to cook ourselves, and tackle our lockdown hair.

As the UK Government eased restrictions on socialising and salons, business owners across the country worked hard behind the scenes to make sure we could all venture out in safety.

Melissa Timperley Salons is one of the businesses that embraced a return to work to help keep our economy going. Owner Melissa followed guidelines from the Government, along with advice from the National Hair and Beauty Federation, before welcoming customers back on July 4.

“We spent time during lockdown researching what other countries have been doing, and putting together a plan so we’d be totally ready to reopen,” Melissa says. “Salon owners have one really important job: to keep their staff and clients healthy and happy.”

Melissa and her team of 12 staff have gone above and beyond to make customers feel comfortable. New safety measures include face visors, disposable aprons and gloves to be worn by each stylist, socially distanced styling stations across the salon’s three floors, and the disinfection of brushes, combs and scissors in between clients.

Melissa has also allocated the top floor of the salon to cater for especially vulnerable clients, and her staff attended a socially distanced training day before opening to help them get used to wearing PPE. “It’s one thing talking about it on Zoom, but another doing it in real life,” Melissa says.

It all adds up to a big change to the salon’s normal working procedures – but the result is a full appointments book, and a waiting list of around 170 customers. And, according to Melissa, the hard work has been worth it to give customers total peace of mind.

“You’ve got to show you’re doing your best for everybody,” she says. “For us, that means buying the best equipment, staggering appointments, and opening for longer hours and on a Sunday. We’re not cutting any corners, and I’ve worked my socks off!”

Melissa has also made a video for customers, showing them exactly what to expect from their new salon experience – just one of the extra flourishes the business is providing to make post-lockdown haircuts special.

“In normal times we offer a bespoke experience with luxury items like magazines and chocolate with your cup of coffee,” Melissa explains. “So now, we’ve tried to do the alternatives that bit better. Our disposable cups have our logo on, the disposable towels are the nicest I could find, and our gowns are scented with vanilla.“But I think people will mainly just be grateful to be getting their hair done. Especially those who have tried cutting and colouring their hair at home – they have realised just how talented hairdressers are!”

No half-measures

Drinkers flocked to reopened pubs across England on Saturday, safe in the knowledge that pubs like the Dog & Parrot Real Ale House in Eastwood, Notts, had worked hard during lockdown to make sure it could serve its customers safely.

Owners Kathryn and David Boam pulled out all the stops to adhere closely to UK Government guidelines for safe reopening, and adapt their pub to “the new normal”.

“We’re a community hub, with quite a few older customers who use our pub to maintain their friendship group,” Kathryn explains. “So we’re safeguarding them by making sure social distancing guidelines are in place. David and I both work full time, with six part-time staff, and it’s been all hands on deck to make sure we’re doing everything right.”

After carrying out a full risk assessment of the business and premises in line with UK Government guidance, measures taken by the couple include a daily deep clean, hand sanitiser for staff and customers, clear social distancing markers and signage, and a table service-only rule.

“With the help of our staff, we came up with ideas to make sure we can open safely and be Covid-19-secure,” Kathryn says. “We’ve also been talking to other local landlords, working together to exchange ideas and make sure we’re all joined up in our actions.”

Thanks to responsible pubs like the Dog & Parrot, customers can raise a glass to their favourite watering hole with peace of mind.

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