Safety rules proposed as France to reopen hair salons

As it is confirmed that most hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons will be allowed to reopen in France after confinement is lifted on May 11, a list of new rules has been proposed to keep staff and customers safe.

5 May 2020
A new series of rules and safety regulations are expected to come into force as hair salons and barbers reopen across France on May 11
By Connexion journalist

Sector heads have proposed a list of new rules that are expected to come into force on May 11.

The government is set to confirm on May 7 whether establishments in “red” departments will be permitted to reopen.

Read more: Deconfinement in France: What is allowed from May 11

It is also not yet clear what the situation will be for salons and barbers that are located inside commercial centres of more than 40,000m2, which - under the current proposed rules - will not be allowed to reopen on May 11.

Franck Provost, president of major sector organisation le Conseil National des Entreprises de Coiffure (CNEC) and the Provalliance group, said: “Overall, everyone wants to restart things, because it is a job with human contact, but it is difficult to envisage the reopening.”

Véronique Revillod, deputy general secretary of union la CFDT Services, said: “We were not in favour of reopening, but we have worked on a lot of details concerning the safety of employees and customers. Every move has been analysed because we will have to restart operations in the best possible safety conditions for employees and customers.”

The new rules have been laid out in a bid to “prevent risks”, and “take in the entire client journey”.

They have been sent to the economy and health ministries. The rules are expected to be approved by the ministries by Monday May 11.

They include:

  • No waiting for your appointment inside the salon
  • Only one person allowed inside per appointment
  • No objects that could “spread” the virus - such as coffees, tablets, or magazines
  • Everyone must keep their belongings on their person, and not place them on surfaces
  • Staff must wear a specific outfit inside the salon, and change when going outside
  • Staff must wear a mask and goggles/protective glasses
  • Staff must wear gloves when shampooing hair
  • Customers must have at least one chair between them and another client
  • If this is not possible, customers must not move from their chair once seated
  • Brushes, combs and other instruments must be washed at a high temperature after use
  • Seats, tables and work surfaces must be disinfected after each client
  • The salon must be able to offer a mask to the client if needed
  • Staff must wash hands and/or use hydroalcoholic gel on their hands regularly
  • Salons are recommended to lengthen their opening hours to avoid too many customers coming in at once
  • Hairdryers to be used sparingly to avoid spreading the virus in the air
  • Staff should try to stagger appointments and work breaks
  • Appointments should be limited to quick, relatively easy procedures, such as quick trims. More involved, longer procedures, such as hair colouring, should be done later, said Ms Revillod
  • Payment should be taken via contactless card as much as possible, with cash avoided

It is expected that the economy ministry will soon use these proposals to outline an official working rule sheet, which establishments will be required to follow. In the meantime, unions have already been spreading the recommendations.

Not respecting the rules could lead to government sanctions, said union la CFDT.

In Nantes (Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire), hairdresser Anne-Elisabeth Cadic has started a petition to “oppose the reopening of salons at any price”. She told local news source Ouest-France: “I will not put my clients and team in danger because of hair.”

But the news comes as 85,000 hairdressing establishments and 113,000 related workers in France are “financially fragile”, said Christophe Doré, vice-president of hairdressing union, l’Union Nationale des Entreprises de Coiffure (Unec).

He said: “We had good indicators that men's hairstyling was doing well, and suddenly it all fell apart. We won’t make up for the losses in our sales now.”

CNEC president Mr Provost said: “Economically it's very complicated, especially for those who were already fragile and had cash flow problems.”

Mr Doré added: “We are looking forward to reopening, but we hope that the rules will not be too restrictive, otherwise there will be no point opening the salon. It will be difficult, especially at the start. We will have to make sure that clients understand that they must spread out, and not chat next to each other.”

Mr Doré also warned that the new rules would come at a cost.

He said: “Equipment such as masks and gel have a cost. The time it takes to disinfect the place will mean fewer clients and appointments. Either business owners cut their margins - after having endured weeks of closure - or they will have to pass the cost on to consumers.”

Some major companies, such as the professional division of beauty brand L'Oréal, have said they will help their partner salons, by offering free hydroalcoholic gel and masks.

Nathalie Roos, general director of the professional division of beauty brand L'Oréal, said: “We want to assure you that we will not be left wanting anywhere, and reassure clients that we will do everything we can to welcome them [safely]. The rapport between hair stylists and clients will be strengthened by this crisis.”

It appears likely that despite the rules, hair salons and barbers will be popular after confinement is lifted.

Mr Doré said: “I have two salons, and 17 partners, and our appointment books are full. We are even asking ourselves how we are going to manage [so many]! [But] despite all the stereotypes, people are now beginning to see how crucial our work is.”

In addition, a poll cited by newspaper Le Figaro suggested that 60% of the French public was expecting to visit a hair salon within the first week of deconfinement.

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