What to expect when you go for a haircut as salons and barbers reopen in Wales

Video report by Megan Boot

After more than three months, people in Wales can once again get their hair cut as barbers and hairdressers are able to reopen from Monday 13.

As businesses start welcoming back customers, they have had to adapt how they work to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus.

One hairdresser from Swansea said it will be "a different experience" for customers as they try and adjust the environment so it is "still pleasant but at the same time safe" for customers and staff.

But what will that "different experience" mean for those eager to get their locks seen to?

  • Can I just turn up?

No, you must book ahead if you want a haircut.

Hairdressers are allowed to operate by appointment only. This is so they can manage the amount of people who will be in the business at any one time. It also allows them to keep an organised account of who was seen and when so that they can be contacted through the test and trace programme if necessary.

Some hairdressers are warning clients not to arrive early so they can keep the number of people there at once as low as possible.

Many hairdressers and barbers are likely to be busy at first and so would not have space for walk-in clients anyway.

Hairdressers and barbers can reopen their doors from July 13. Pubs, cafes and restaurants can also open outdoors from the same date. Credit: PA Images
  • Do I need to keep two metres away from everyone?

While social distancing is still necessary and two metres is preferred, Welsh Government have recognised that sometimes this may not be practical.

Hairdressers will not be able to maintain a two-metre distance with their customers and so will be required to take other measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission. These include minimising face-to-face contact and maintaining hygiene standards.

Hairdressers have been told "to take reasonable measures to ensure distance is kept" where it can be. This means that you should social distance where you can, like for instance, when waiting in a queue to enter the premises.

  • Will I need to wear a face mask?

At the moment, Welsh Government advise that people should wear face masks when they are in situations where social distancing is difficult. It will also be compulsory for people to wear masks on public transport form July 27.

While there is currently no government requirement for you to wear a mask or face covering while in a hairdressers, many businesses may enforce this as a rule. You should check with your hairdresser if they will need you to wear one.

Hairdressers and barbers will need to wear visors that cover their whole face. Credit: PA Images
  • Will my hairdresser be wearing a mask and gloves?

Hairdressers should wear masks because "employees need to work in close proximity to their clients, usually for an extended period of time." These should be clear visors that cover the face.

Official Welsh Government advice says these visors "should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face."

Louise Secker, from Hobo Hair Designs in Swansea, said wearing visors will be different but something they will have to get used to. She said: "Wearing a face shield all day in this weather may be a little bit uncomfortable but, for stylists and customers, I'm sure once you start doing it it'll start becoming more natural."

Hairdressers have not been told they must wear gloves but they should be regularly washing their hands anyway.

  • Will there be one-way systems and screens in place?

This will depend on the business but they should be taking extra measures to limit contact between people. This could include signs and tape on the floor denoting one-way systems or social distancing.

There may be screens between work stations or at the front desk but it is unlikely there will be any screen, other than that of a visor face mask, between you and the person cutting your hair.

Signs may be placed on the walls and floors to encourage social distancing or a one-way system. Credit: PA Images
  • Can I get my beard cut?

Hairdressers and barbers are only allowed to carry out services that relate to cutting or treating hair on the head. They cannot carry out tasks that bring them in front of a clients face, known as the 'highest risk zone'

The Welsh Government guidance goes on to name shaving and beard trimming as services that therefore should not be carried out if it involves moving into this high risk area, "until such time as the scientific and medical advice is that it is safe to resume these services."

Official Welsh Government guidance says hairdressers and barbers should not carry out services that bring them in front of customers' faces. Credit: PA Images
  • Can I use the toilet?

Client toilets should still be open and the business should be ensuring these are cleaned. There may be other safety measures in place for people using them like socially distanced queues or hand sanitiser at the entrance.

  • Can I get my usual coffee while I wait?

You will only be allowed to consume water on the premises.

Hairdressers have been told not to provide any food or drink to clients apart from "water in disposable cups or bottled." They are also not allowed to let clients drink or consume anything else other than water.

Hairdressers and barbers should not be serving refreshments other than water to clients. Credit: PA Images
  • What and who can I bring with me?

Check with your salon but it is unlikely they will let you bring someone with you to keep you company as they will want to keep the number of people inside as low as possible.

It is advisable to only bring what you need with you and to avoid taking large bags and luggage but it is best to check what your hairdresser's policy is.

  • What else are businesses doing to keep staff and customers safe?

Some businesses may also be taking customer temperatures too and turning away people who have high temperatures.

Anyone with symptoms should not be going to the hairdressers - whether they are staff or a customer.

A high temperature is one of the symptoms of coronavirus. Credit: PA Images

Magazines and reading materials may be removed from hairdressers and barbers as well, so they do not pass through multiple pairs of hands and risk transmitting the virus that way.

Businesses should also have carried out risk assessments to identify where there is a risk of coronavirus transmission and the steps they can take to reduce this.

If you are worried about your safety, ask your hairdresser what safety procedures they have in place for customers and staff.