Beauty salons have been devastated once again as businesses in Tier 4 areas are forced to close during the busy lead up to Christmas.
Personal care facilities including hairdressers, beauty, tanning and nail salons will no longer be able to serve clients following the discovery of a new, more contagious strain of Covid-19.
Areas most affected include areas of the south east including Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire, and London, where the virus was described by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, as “out of control”.
The message to those residents in Tier 4 is ‘stay at home’, with people unable to leave their home without a ‘reasonable excuse’.
During the Covid-19 press conference on Saturday, following an emergency cabinet meeting, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “We cannot continue with Christmas as planned”.
Speaking to Cosmetics Business, the British Beauty Council's CEO, Millie Kendall, said: "Announcing that all non-essential retail, including personal care, is to close, just two hours before end of trading on the busiest day of the year, giving us little time to cancel weeks of appointments and to furlough staff is insensitive to business owners and their employees.
"This is devastating news. The industry has received no sector-specific financial support and the retail grants don't go far enough.
"The reality is that up to 60% of salon services may not survive to the end of this financial year. We continue to lobby the government on behalf of our industry and its members to address the specific needs of close contact services.
For the rest of the UK, the government’s initial plans to mix households from 23-27 December was shortened to just Christmas Day.
The government is expected to do a review of the Tiered system in two weeks’ time.
Non-essential retailers, including beauty shops, have also been ordered to close following Johnson’s announcement, another blow to an already struggling highstreet backdrop.
In response, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the announcement was “hugely regrettable”.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of BRC, added: “Retailers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds making stores Covid-secure for customers and staff, and SAGE’s advice has said throughout that closing non-essential retail has a minimal impact on the spread of the virus.”
She also warned the consequences of the decision would be “severe”.
“Faced with this news, and the prospect of losing £2bn per week in sales for the third time this year, many businesses will be in serious difficulty and many thousands of jobs could be at risk.
“The government will need to offer additional financial support to help these businesses get back on an even keel – an extension of business rates relief in 2021 is the best place to start.”
An anxious wait
Unlike non-essential retail, beauty salons were ordered to close for England’s second national lockdown at the beginning of November for four weeks to 2 December.
The blow sparked beauty mogul Caroline Hirons to step in for the sector and encouraged consumers to book appointments ahead of Christmas with her Back, Book, Buy Beauty initiative.
“We are now in another lockdown during what is traditionally the busiest period of the year for beauty,” the press statement said.
The campaign followed Hirons’ crowdfunding initiative for beauty workers, which kicked off earlier in the year to financially help beauty technicians while salons were closed.
Beauty Backed raised more than £600,000, which will be donated to UK-based charity Hair & Beauty.