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30 minutes per client is not manageable, hairdressers warn

Credit: Belga

If the Consultative Committee decides to reopen contact professions under the strict new protocols including a 30-minute time limit per client, many hairdressers fear that it will not be workable for them.

As Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in the House, the safety protocols for hairdressers, if they can reopen, will be considerably stricter than they were before. In an advice note to the authorities, the GEMS experts reportedly recommended a time limit of 30 minutes per client, according to local media.

However, such a limit is “not manageable at all,” according to Charles-Antoine Huybrechts, present of the Febelhair hairdressers association. “That time limit was never mentioned in our talks with the ministers, and never in our talks with the GEMS.”

“If we have to keep to it, then colouring and many other treatments are not possible,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “Then we will open at a loss, and it would be absurd not to just remain closed. Opening requires an investment, but you just cannot do it this way.”

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While hairdressers were initially relieved to have received some perspective by the previous Consultative Committee meeting, they now state that almost everything takes longer than 30 minutes.

“I agree that, in these times, things have to be done a bit faster, but in half an hour, you cannot even properly dry your hair after cutting it,” Huybrechts said.

He added that for most men, half an hour is usually enough, but that women’s hair usually takes a lot more work. “This rule devalues our profession,” he added.

Additionally, Huybrechts stressed that most hairdressers would be able to come up with original solutions to make sure safety measures are respected as much as possible.

“However, at the moment, they are in a period of uncertainty that is too great for them to do so,” he said. “They do not dare to think about the future too much.”

Other proposed measures, such as only allowing one client per 10 square metres or hairdressers wearing FFP2 masks, are manageable for most salons, according to Huybrechts.

“Most people are eager to get back to work, but the idea is to open in a financially viable way,” he said. “We argue that there should still be support measures, and that those who find it safer not to open should also continue to receive compensation.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times