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'Our livelihood is hanging by a thread' - Irish hairdressers speak out

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A barber gives a man a haircut while wearing a face mask and shield after Thailand's lockdown was partially lifted.(Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

A barber gives a man a haircut while wearing a face mask and shield after Thailand's lockdown was partially lifted.(Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Getty Images

A barber gives a man a haircut while wearing a face mask and shield after Thailand's lockdown was partially lifted.(Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Business owners have been left reeling at the prospect of an extended lockdown, which will leave their businesses shut for most of the summer.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mark O'Keeffe, director of Brown Sugar hairdressers who employ more than 100 staff, said members of the industry were left "insulted" at the lack of respect shown by authorities when addressing the fate of thousands of jobs in Irish salons.

Both Dr Tony Holohan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar raised laughter when asked about the date of salons reopening, and Mr O'Keeffe said: "I understand it isn't life and death but at the same time it is our livelihood and it's hanging by a thread.

"People have put their lives into building their businesses, they have to pay mortgages and it seems like the reopening of the industry is seen as funny and a bit of an afterthought. It was disrespectful and out of touch with the reality on the ground."

Meanwhile, Noelle McCarthy, who operates the Blow salon chain in Dublin, said the industry's July 20 opening will cause the black market to "erupt".

"One woman offered €150 for a few home blow-dries a week. I'm not doing it, but how many are going to turn down that money? I know there are people already doing home visits. Salons have the PPE ready, they can do temperature checks and work in a sanitised environment rather than risk safety in homes, it is the common sense approach if the Government wants to have some control. Instead the black market is going to erupt."

In the cafe and restaurant industry, which will remain largely shut until June 29, Trevor Browne, owner of Tribeca restaurant, said he would have hoped the Government could now trust the public to social distance: "People are being incredibly vigilant. Even children. The discipline is there. You would think that they could trust the public at this stage to comply." Meanwhile, in the hotel industry, Stephen Belton, chairman of Original Irish Hotels, which represents 60 independent hotels across Ireland, said: "The hotel industry is on its knees. This is about people and their livelihoods, let's not forget that."

Sunday Independent