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Experts warn against reopening hairdressers

Credits: Belga

Virologist Steven Van Gucht warned that opening Belgian hairdressers again implies risk, and advised against it being given the green light by the Consultative Committee on Friday. 

Keeping them – and other contact professions – closed for now would help keep contact between people as low as possible, Van Gucht said on Friday morning.

“Belgium has done very well in recent months: we are the only country in Europe that has kept its numbers relatively stable,” he said in the Canvas programme ‘Terzake’.

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However, he argued that by allowing ‘contact professions’ to open their businesses again, the number of contacts per person will increase again.

He further highlighted that it is estimated that, among hairdressers, there are about a million contacts a week, emphasising that ‘if you reopen the barber stores, it can’t help but have an impact.’

“From the moment you start tinkering with our formula, we don’t know what will happen. To be honest, we’re afraid of that,” he warned.

Heated debate

Van Gucht is not alone in his opinion, with most experts warning against the re-opening of contact professions. 

At the end of January, virologist Marc Van Ranst spoke out on the topic, saying that people should not get their hopes up for a reopening of contact professions on 13 February, adding that it was “totally unfeasible” with the more infectious virus variants going around.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had previously said that, if hairdressers would re-open, safety would be the ‘top priority’, adding that the protocols for this sector would go a lot further than during the first wave.

Going to the hairdresser is ‘really becoming a major need for the people’, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who said the government will ‘see what they can do on Friday’.  He stressed that a possible reopening would be an ‘isolated event’  and “should not be seen as the beginning of a whole series of relaxations, because that would be very imprudent.”

As announced in the previous meeting, the Consultative Committee on Friday 5 February will discuss the possible reopening of hairdressers from 13 February.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times