Please let hair salons reopen


  • Letters
  • Thursday, 21 May 2020

IT is the duty of all responsible Malaysians to play our roles in continuing the battle against Covid-19. Almost all sectors of our embattled economy are now reopening and starting the journey towards recovery.

But hair salons and hairdressers are not so fortunate. I have to bring to the attention of the government, particularly the Health director-general, the plight of 15,000 businesses, many of them on the verge of closure, and 60,000 workers who are suffering as their industry remains closed due to the movement control order (MCO).

When the conditional MCO was first implemented, it was said that we had successfully managed to flatten the Covid-19 infection curve, but as the virus will remain with us for the foreseeable future, our only course of action is to learn how to live with it.

As the purpose of the MCO is to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, at 30% utilisation capacity in our hospitals, I believe we have already achieved this.

Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and many countries around the world have already reopened their hairdressing sector. Hair salons remained open throughout the pandemic in Japan, Taiwan and Australia, and these are among the least infected countries in the world.

This correlates to available data that hair salons do not pose greater risks than other sectors with the proper implementation of standard operating procedures. As far as I am aware, there hasn’t been any evidence that points to the hair industry posing a greater threat than many other sectors that have since reopened anywhere in the world.

Dr Susan Hassig, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, put hair and nail salons in the category of medium risk – the same as indoor dining and social activities such as gathering with a couple of friends, while gathering with family and friends in larger groups are categorised as high risk (https://bit.ly/2z3su7L).

Recent reports show that some hairdressers are doing house calls. This poses a real and immediate risk of spreading the virus as they are going from an environment that can be regulated, like hair salons, to one which is impossible to regulate, such as someone’s home. The number of illegal house calls will only increase if salons are not allowed to reopen soon.

On May 14, Dr Takeshi Kasai of the World Health Organisation said people should not have to choose between health and livelihood. I hope the government will give us the same opportunity that has been given to so many businesses and allow me and my colleagues to present our SOP that are stricter and more comprehensive compared to the hairdressing industries in many countries.

With utmost respect and humility, I ask the government to show hairdressers throughout the country – who have brought joy and smiles to the lives of so many Malaysians; who have lent friendly ears to troubled souls; and who have provided comfort and familiarity to our customers with relationships, many of which have blossomed into long-lasting friendships – that we are worthy of consideration for an opportunity to restart our lives and mend our broken businesses.

VINCENT HO

Hair salon business owner

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