“Shut us down” – that’s the plea from the boss of the country’s largest hairdressing chain, who says it is “bonkers” to scrap a 30-minute time limit on haircuts during the coronavirus outbreak.
Just Cuts chief executive Denis McFadden said the lives of customers and staff would be put at risk by the decision – and that haircuts were not an essential service.
“We understand that you’re trying to juggle protecting livelihoods and saving lives but this decision puts both at risk for our people and clients,” he said.
“Please act now.”
Just Cuts has about 2500 staff across Australia.
Mr McFadden’s plea came after the 30-minute restriction on haircuts – announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday night – was scrapped on Thursday as the federal government tinkers with measures to slow the spread of deadly virus.
The backdown came after repeated complaints that the 30-minute limit was impractical.
Mr Morrison said hairdressers and barbers must still strictly follow rules about having four square meters per person, and personal contact during appointments must be minimised.
But Mr McFadden said it was physically impossible for stylists to do their job while observing the distancing rule, which will still be strictly enforced. The safety of salon staff and customers must come first, he said.
“Hairdressing is not an essential service,” he said.
“Of course, I would prefer this weren’t happening at all, and calling for the sector to be shut down might seem counterproductive, but it simply must happen in the interests of people’s health.”
Mr McFadden said without hairdressing being on the shutdown list, it was difficult for franchise owners to stand down workers and close their doors.
New Zealand and Britain – both of which are in lockdown – have shut down hair salons.
“I am touching this client’s hair, and our stylists are doing this every day. We need the government – now – to shut us down,” he said.
“When that happens, there will be a safety net for our stylists and also the landlords might be sympathetic to the rents that we’re going to be paying. I plead for the state and federal governments to consider that this is dangerous.”
In other changes to coronavirus restrictions announced on Thursday, the states will also be able to allow more than 10 people attend funerals.
The relaxation of both sets of rules was agreed to at a national cabinet meeting on Wednesday night.