Hairdressers, beauticians face prospect of slump in work even after lockdown

May 11, 2020 03:17 am | Updated 03:17 am IST - Bengaluru

A hair salon operating at Malleswaram last week.

A hair salon operating at Malleswaram last week.

COVID-19 has struck a huge blow to the incomes of barbers, hairstylists and beauticians, who know that even if other businesses find a way to function safely, they will have a hard time returning to normalcy because the nature of their job is such that they have to be in close proximity to people.

A majority of professionals in this sector will not be eligible for the one-time compensation of ₹5,000 that Chief Minister B.S. Yediurappa announced, which is expected to benefit around 2,30,000 barbers. Many in the profession are not sure whether they qualify for this and have urged the government to clarify whether or not hairstylists and beauticians come under their definition of barbers. “I’m an aesthetician in a beauty parlour that has many outlets in Bengaluru. We have been closed for more than a month and the number of women coming to us for manicures and pedicures had dropped even before the lockdown. What happens to us after May 17, when the lockdown ends?” said a 35-year-old beautician.

A manager of a beauty parlour in Mahalakshmi Layout shared similar concerns. “We are not considered barbers. To be fair, everyone in the profession should get it.”

The Karnataka Rajya Savitha Samaja has approached the government to provide them with COVID-19 safety kits and operational guidelines that they can follow when restrictions are lifted. “However, we have not received any response yet. We have also asked for medical insurance as we are vulnerable to the attack of COVID-19,” said Sampath Kumar, State president of the Samaja.

S. Ravish, who runs seven men’s parlours across the city, said that their expenses would nearly double after the lockdown. “We will have to take preventive steps like using and throwing away towels, gloves, and masks,” he said, adding that he had already ordered body thermometers. With over 35 people working in his parlours, Mr. Ravish said that it was impossible for him to provide everyone with safety kits. “This is why we want the government to step in and help us,” he said.

Many barbers and beauticians also said that they don’t know if they would reopen even if they were allowed to do so after May 17. Though many have been getting calls for home services, we are declining them. “I do not want to contract the virus or be responsible for transmitting it to others,” said Ravi Chander, who on an average gets a couple of home service requests every day.

Kiran Kumar, another office-bearer of the samaja, said that interest-free loans and electricity bill waiver was the need of the hour for them.

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