NI hairdressers’ anger as rest of UK moves to reopen

Hairdressers in Northern Ireland have spoken of their anger and frustration at the slower easing of lockdown and the lack of information from Stormont.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 7:01 am
Senior stylist Robert Brooks cuts the hair of Carmen Smith at the Lazarou salon in Cardiff, Wales. Hairdressers and barbers in Wales reopened last month. Picture date: Monday March 15, 2021.

Monica Fee, who runs a salon in Londonderry, said there appears to be “no rhyme or reason” to explain why Northern Ireland is taking longer than other parts of the UK to allow people like her to get back to work.

She also warned that restrictions are simply being ignored with some of her former clients now seeing hair stylists in a “black market” in breach of the rules.

Deborah O’Shea, a self-employed hair stylist who also lives in Londonderry, sounded a similar warning about restrictions being ignored and expressed frustration about the lack of an explanation from Stormont about how long she must stay closed.

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Their comments follow stark warnings in recent days from business groups such as the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, Hospitality Ulster and Retail NI about the “growing frustration” with the local government here as other UK nations begin to step out of lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that hairdressers in England can reopen on Monday (April 12), while in Scotland they are already up-and-running.

In Northern Ireland, however, there isn’t even an indicative date for possible reopening.

Monica Fee said: “It’s just so wrong. I am so angry about it.

“It’s really affecting my business now because I’m losing clients to people who aren’t following the rules. No-one should be deluded enough to think that people aren’t still doing hair.”

She continued: “You just have to look around you and see that a lot of people are still getting their hair done.

“There’s no sense to anything they are saying. What makes it okay on the 12th for England but not for Northern Ireland? What makes it okay for Scotland now?

“There’s a real lack of information there. They’re fighting about a funeral, but there are things that need to be done. I am just fed up with it now.”

She added: “It’s made me really think about my future. I don’t think I could do another lockdown.”

Deborah O’Shea said: “It is just so frustrating to hear about other people getting to open up but we still can’t.

“We’ve taken all the precautions so it should be a really safe environment. Our numbers are similar to England so why are we having to stay closed?”

Earlier this week, Arlene Foster told the BBC that the “lifting of restrictions” on “close contact services” would be proposed in a paper brought to a lockdown review by the Northern Ireland Executive on April 15.

“My colleague, [Economy Minister] Diane Dodds, has put papers in in relation to the lifting of restrictions in terms of close-contact services, hairdressers, beauticians, for non-essential retail, and I do hope that we will be able to give dates in relation to those issues when we next go to the Executive,” Mrs Foster said.

The next date for a review of the restrictions is April 15.