No rush for haircuts, but barbers happy to be back


By R. SEKARANRENA LIM

GEORGE TOWN: There was no mad rush or long queues for haircuts, but barbers and hairstylists were just happy to be back in business after being closed for a few months.

A check on several barbershops in town and the outskirts showed there was good business on the first day of Penang transitioning into Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

“I have two workers and we managed to attend to many customers who are regulars,” said S. Tamilarasan, who runs a barbershop in Paya Terubong.

“We have closed for more than two months. I am looking forward to good business this weekend,” he added.

On Monday, then Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Penang would move into Phase Two from yesterday after fulfilling key three indicators. (Ismail Sabri has since been appointed Deputy Prime Minister).

Among the criteria was the average number of daily cases, that is, by recording 9.5 cases out of 100,000 people over seven days.

At a barbershop in Bandar Baru Air Itam, at least six people were seen waiting outside to have their haircuts.

A worker who identified himself as Kalimuthu said he was happy to be doing what he is good at.

“If the shop is to remain close for another month, we would definitely have to go back to India.

“We are anticipating a bigger weekend crowd as most of our customers are those living here.

“Opening on a public holiday (Heritage Day in Penang) is good as many came in early to beat the crowd. We expect more customers before we close at 9pm,” he said.

Former bank employee Bahman Hashim, 60, said he was happy to get his haircut after almost five weeks.

“I usually have my hair trimmed every three weeks. It is good barbershops are allowed to open now,” said Bahman, who lives in Kampung Melayu.

Barber Lebon Wong, 33, who operates his shop in Bayan Lepas, said being allowed to reopen was the first step to solving his livelihood woes.

“Instead of waiting for people to feed me, I would rather feed myself with my own effort and hard work.

“It has been some time, but we are happy to be able to reopen as our financial issues will be solved. I believe many hairdressers have been anxious over the loss of income as well.

“As we reopen, we do not expect many customers, but we can at least get some income and try to sustain (ourselves),” he said.

Wong said the lifting of the inter-district travel ban and 10km travel radius limit would be best in helping them.

“We hope the government can at least consider allowing travelling within the state to help local small businesses,” he said.

Hair salon founder and owner Wan Shuhada Wan Ali, 44, said they would rely on regular customers for the time being.

“I have received financial aid a few times through the Prihatin Special Grant and I am grateful for it.

“But realistically, we cannot keep relying on aid, so I would prefer to earn (some income) to sustain myself,” she said.

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