Early evening on Wednesday (January 7), the 38-year-old Indian film actress Priyanka Chopra went to get her hair coloured at the Josh Wood hair salon in Notting Hill, near her home where she lives with her husband Nick Jonas. Any other year and this wouldn’t make a breaking news story that warrants the police to come along to see what was going on, however we are in a national lockdown.
Several media titles and people on social media were outraged, however I think we should first get the facts straight. Josh Wood and Priyanka Chopra were not breaking the law. In law, it is perfectly legal for film and TV production to continue, with all of the pre-production that goes with it. And since Chopra was there to get her hair coloured for a role she is filming in London, she was doing absolutely nothing wrong. The pair had all the appropriate permits, had Covid negative tests beforehand, and the salon was closed in every other way bar this one appointment. Claims of the pair breaking the law or flouting the rules are completely incorrect.
In a statement, Josh Wood said: 'We have absolute respect for the government regulations and have worked incredibly hard throughout the last 10 months to ensure we not only comply but go above and beyond to ensure the safety of our employees and our clients.'
I’ve known Josh for years. He is not one to ‘flout’ rules - in fact, he’s one of the leading names in the British hairdressing world, and is a diligent rule follower with a scrupulously clean, Covid-secure salon. When salons were able to reopen last summer, he - like many other salons across the country - had pumped thousands into making his salon as Covid-secure as possible. (I can guarantee you I will be heading straight to a salon on day one of lockdown lifting, so confident I am of the high hygiene standards across the board.)
Josh is not going to open up his salon for a client, celebrity actress or not, to simply 'do' their hair. But part of his job is in pre-production for film and TV, and since the government has made exemptions to allow for film and TV production to continue, Josh and Priyanka were legally working within the rules. Whether we agree with their rules or not is besides the point. The government has poorly communicated what is allowed and what isn’t, and other journalists have acted lazily in not establishing facts – so when there is the vaguest sniff of someone ‘breaking’ the rules, these stories add fuel to the fire and give the public ammunition to pile in.
Also, like many of my friends and colleagues, Netflix/Prime/Sky are pretty much the only thing getting me through this lockdown. Discussing style notes from Bridgerton or whodunnit in The Undoing has become the new currency of socialising. So please let’s not take away one of the few joys we’re allowed right now and let's stop the tutting and finger-wagging. I'm sure there are far bigger things to be concerned with than a very legal, Covid-secure, pre-production hair colour going on.