Last night it was announced that finally beauticians can get back to work tomorrow, the end to one of the most unnecessarily complicated journeys of this whole lockdown for an industry that has been tossed around and stung by the government irreparably.
Let me catch you up to speed on the haphazardness of the government's decision-making process, because for the ridiculousness to have its real impact you need to see it listed. Let’s see: there was the initial tearing apart of hairdressers and beauticians back at the end of June, with beauticians being told a few days before reopening that they weren’t ‘covid-secure’ enough. Yet it was okay to sit next to several people in a pub with no PPE.
The beauty sector were angry, and so were we: at the Telegraph we launched our Why Can’t I Work campaign, which saw thousands of women posting pictures of themselves in their full PPE on social media, asking the government to answer just why they weren’t covid secure. It still makes absolutely no sense to me, but let’s continue.
Then in July came the ridiculous rule that only treatments ‘neck-down’ could be performed - effectively wiping out 70 percent of the 200,000 workforce - a decision based on ‘following the science’, despite us ever seeing this science.
In mid-July came the August 1st date for the remaining off-menu treatments to resume, only to be told the devastating news with less than 24 hours that the government needed to ‘put on the brakes’ for another two weeks. Why? Because the rate of infection was rising, most likely down to increased levels of socialising and certainly not because someone needed their eyebrows threaded.
Please can someone explain to me what exactly was achieved in these two weeks? What was the real point of putting on the brakes for a further 14 days, except to further anger and belittle this whole sector? It honestly feels like they were just doing it for a bit of a laugh.
Did they just expect us to all go away, sulk and lick our wounds? Yes probably, but we didn’t. The industry regrouped and rallied again, against a backdrop of no financial aid or further grants, to fundraise for the tens of thousands of people in the industry struggling to pay their rent or put food on their tables.
All that was achieved in those two weeks was a complete mistrust of the government from the beauty industry, which may seem frivolous to some, but these are some of the most hard-working people I know. Most self-employed, rule-following, tax-paying women who want to do the right thing and make sure they’re up to their eyeballs in PPE (quite literally) in a safe and highly-santised space.
In the past two weeks they could have been recouping some earnings at their busiest time of the year. The summer months are crucial, so to have lost out on two weeks of jam-packed bookings in a decision that makes no sense whatsoever, is beyond infuriating.
What this whole fiasco has shown the industry is that there’s a bigger issue here that needs to be addressed. We always knew the beauty sector wasn’t taken seriously, or was considered ‘fluffy’, but now more than ever we have to raise the profile of the sector and lift its reputation.
But for now, it’s time to start mending some of the damage that has been done. Which is why tomorrow I’ll be booking in for a treatment to support my local salon, because we’ve all shown that when the government doesn’t understand what’s at stake by keeping an industry out of work for five months, we certainly do.