By Pieter De Wit
I can remember the joy of having a haircut in the Philippines very vividly. When I was there on a two month holiday, the friendly staff welcomed me with a big smile and guided me to the washing bowls. The barber complemented the washing service with a gentle head massage, and, while closing my eyes, I drifted away and thoroughly enjoyed the moment.
But spas and salons were closed since the beginning of March, making me yearn even more for the relaxation of my Philippines experience. During the global lockdown, taking a selfie of your DIY Corona haircut became a rather unfortunate fad on social media, but, even though I am slightly curious about how long hair would look on me, I am so happy that hair salons are open again, albeit with stricter regulations.
One thing is for sure—since COVID-19, our spa and salon experience will certainly change. While I hope the changes are temporary, here are the new protocols that have now been introduced.
Strict Measures At Salons And Spas
Similar measures are being taken in almost every country. I understand this widespread fear of contamination might spoil your visit somewhat and make it less relaxing, but I will just keep wearing my rose-tinted glasses with my face mask and embrace the experience!
Just like in any public area, social distancing measures need to be respected. So say goodbye to giving your friends or hairdresser a hug. Wearing a face mask is mandatory, and all chairs must be at least 1 metre apart in any direction. On the one hand, it complicates a relaxed conversation with your barber (who will also be desperately trying to cut your hair without cutting your face mask!). Still, on the other hand, it discourages eavesdroppers. Your secrets are safe. See, there’s a silver lining to everything!
Regular sanitation schedules and procedures must be implemented, with a 10-minute interval for cleaning protocols between clients. There must be adequate ventilation to ensure any possible germs leave the building without infecting customers. This tighter schedule will possibly make booking an appointment more challenging, but once you’re there, you can be sure your seat is cleaner than ever!
There will be a policy against bringing companions to tag along, unless absolutely necessary. Salon staff will be advising you to wait your turn outside or in your car. Too bad if a trip to your favourite salon was an excuse to catch up with your bestie! But you can always look at it as an opportunity for some ‘me time’ or to make new friends—socially distanced, of course!
At the entrance, one of the employees will check your temperature. This is an easy method to check for fever, but I wonder if the device will reveal that I have a little crush on the cute lady at the front desk!
In Malaysia, the situation and guidelines are quite similar. Barbers must register every client, and their body temperature must be checked before entering. Seats for haircuts must be placed at least two metres apart, which unfortunately often limits the working capacity salons need to stay profitable.
One spa owner I know of in Kuala Lumpur isn’t going to open just yet as she feels it’s too early, and that the SOPs and regulations are too much hassle right now. She considers herself lucky that she can afford to do that, but others might not be in the same position.
It’s obvious that your spa and salon experience after COVID-19 will be dramatically different. When your favourite salon reopens, you shouldn’t have to worry about the quality of the service provided or the possible risk of viral infection. The regulations are very strict, and we can rejoice that, slowly, we can pick up our lives again.
But the joyful atmosphere of smiling faces, meet-ups with the bestie, and juicy gossip are, temporarily, replaced by face masks and social distancing measures. But at least I finally can get rid of my corona haircut!