It will be a steady approach to the ‘new normal’
Beauty salons are ready to reopen - although the 'riskier' treatments will have to wait a while.
The phasing-in of treatments will mean those deemed higher risk, such as facials and make-up application, will be unavailable in some salons for the time being.
Darragh Curtin, managing director of Bellissimo in Limerick City, told Independent.ie the salon wasn't looking at what other salons were doing: "We're looking at what should be done."
While there are no official stipulations regarding what can be provided in beauty salons on Monday, the Limerick salon is one of many deciding to limit treatments.
At Bellissimo Limerick, first-phase treatments will include nails, waxing, tanning, and laser treatments. But facials, massages and make-up application won't be possible in the initial days of reopening, in the interest of staff and client safety.
"We took it in the context of how long you'd be spending with somebody with an uncovered face," he said.
"There's a handful of treatments, like a lip wax, where the staff member would be wearing face protection but the client would have to remove their mask for the treatment - but it's not a long treatment."
Mr Curtin said the salon also considered what may be deemed "absolutely essential" as opposed to what may be seen as "more of a treat".
Mr Curtin said the comfort level of his staff had also been a key factor in deciding what treatments to offer next week.
Bellisimo Limerick's "new salon experience" will put the safety of staff and clients as its top priority.
As such, the new protocols advise clients to "leave the kids at home", arrive on time (not too early), wear a mask for the duration of the visit and bring minimal personal belongings.
Clients will be given a disposable gown before being brought to the hair salon, and asked "to minimise all chat" when shampooing at the basin while their stylist is in close contact. There will temporarily be no tea, coffee or magazines.
Mr Curtin said staff were used to moving to help in whatever area was busiest, but this would no longer be the case under new protocols.
Staff members will now work within a single 'zone' and will be responsible for their own zone's sanitisation.
Staff will be provided with packs containing reusable masks, face shields, sanitising spray for their equipment and hand sanitiser.
While the salon is taking a measured and cautious approach to reopening, Mr Curtin is confident the salon will be a safe space for clients.
"Within a salon, people are continuously washing their hands, they're sanitising every area, staff are wearing face masks and clients are wearing face masks.
"Staff have fulfilled criteria before entering the building and have been temperature checked. The transmission possibility is... I don't want to say minuscule, but it has been enormously reduced."
Elizabeth C Beauty Clinic in Galway city is also offering a "reduced treatment menu" for July, with its more intensive treatments unavailable.
First-phase treatments will be limited to those where clients can wear masks including eyebrow, lash and nail treatments.
Salon owner Eilish MacDonald said the length of time spent with a client was the main reason behind the salon's decision.
"I wouldn't want to put a therapist into a room with somebody for an hour and a half on their first or second day back at work after three months," she said, adding the salon uses a lot of heat and steam for these treatments, and the client would be unable to wear a mask for the duration of the facial. "So we're holding off on doing facials for the first few weeks until the therapists are comfortable."
In preparing to reopen, the salon has been retrofitted with screens on all manicure stations, new treatment beds in the rooms, and bought PPE for therapists.
The salon is asking clients to come to the salon alone at their designated appointment time and wear a face mask. Clients are asked to use hand sanitiser on arrival, will have their temperature taken and supply contact details, in line with HSE guidelines for Covid-19 contact tracing.
The salon's protocols mean clients will have to leave immediately after treatments - meaning clients cannot wait in the salon for their nails to dry. "You can't wait in a salon now, with social distancing. This is the difficulty. It's the same everywhere."
CEO of the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation Ireland Margaret O'Rourke-Doherty confirmed there was no stipulation for beauty workers on what they could or couldn't do when they returned to work on Monday.
"It really comes down to what the client is comfortable with and what the therapist is comfortable with," she said.
"Each business needs to risk assess and see what treatments they can provide, in a way that is reasonable and practical for them."