Botswana: Hairdressers Want to Stay Afloat

Kanye — The COVID-19 pandemic has affected various businesses including the hair and beauty industry.

In these businesses that have physical contact, hairdressers and barbers are in a dilemma of whether to stop or continue with the business.

Several hair saloon owners in Kanye said in an intertview that although government had not instructed closure, they were faced with a challenge of protecting themselves and their clients.

Their concerns were premised on the fact that they could not practice social distancing and that their job could only be done through contact, something that made them and their clients vulnerable to the virus.

Trinity Hair Saloon director, Mr Renner Ntiamoah, said his establishment was assisting few clients, but explained that they would come up with ways to treat their clients during 'these trying times of the corona virus'.

He said the intention was to remain in business despite the coronavirus outbreak, saying more emphasis should be on personal hygiene as a core factor amongst all hair dressers.

"We are aware of what spreading of the virus means and how it can lead to closing of our business, hence the decision to sensitise all our hairdressers about practicing good hygiene," he said.

Mr Ntiamoah indicated thaty they had advised barbers to ensure repeated sterilisation of hair cutting machines, sanitise their hands and those of their clients.

"Sanitisers are out of stock so we replaced them with pine gel, which we place around the salon for use when entering the salon and throughout our clients' appointment. When washing client's head, we use disposable hand towels," he said.

So far, he said, they were still awaiting clarification from Ministry of Health and Wellness as to whether they should purchase masks for the workers, but said gloves were available for both hair dressers and barbers.

Mr Ntiamoah said they had no visitations from health practitioners, but learnt from the public health messages from radio, newspapers and socila media.

"I therefore call on the district council to immediately escalate health and safety awareness campaigns for small businesses that offer 'hands-on' hair and beauty services in the wake of the ongoing economic crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus,"he said.

He acknowledged that part of the reason for few clients might have been due to recent call made by government where people were advised to practice social distancing.

"So far government only advises on social distancing. Until the government tells us explicitly that we should close down our shops, we will continue operating, but as the saloon we are doing our utmost to protect our customers," he said.

Mr Ntiamoah noted that the staff made earnings through commissions, but since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent decision to close schools, their future seemed bleak due to low earnings.

"Usually after the festive holidays, our business goes down. We were hopeful that the situation will improve during the coming Easter Holidays, but our hopes are in vain," he said.

For her part, Masaasele Nails and Lasher, director, Ms Olorato Mhutsiwa said since the outbreak of coron avirus, many of their customers had stopped coming for manicure and pedicure, leaving 'us worried about how we will make a living.'

She noted that their earnings were commission based, with no basic salary, adding that the pandemic was likely to affect their pay check.

"We are in fear since we are forced to adjust to the reality of less commission. Corona virus outbreak means less earning for the foreseeable future," she said.

Ms Mhutsiwa, however, acknowledged that her shop still needed to take up considerable efforts towards possibilities of spreading and contracting the virus in her stall.

"Sanitisers are out of stock, but we do all our best to ensure that we disinfect all out equipment and physical spaces after each visit," she said.

She said they were considering innovative means of doing business with minimal ways of spreading the virus such as reducing talks while performing their duties and customers ensuring they know exactly what they wanted.

Source : BOPA

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