Businesses, including beauty salons and nail bars, began reopening across England on Monday as part of the next phase in the easing of the coronavirus lockdown imposed in the UK on March 23.
Other venues requiring close physical contact, including tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas, are also among those able to welcome back customers under so-called COVID-secure guidance issued by the UK government.
"We have been clear throughout this crisis that we want as many businesses as possible to reopen, but we must be confident it is safe for them to do so," said UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
"Thousands more businesses which offer close contact services like nail and beauty salons will be able to welcome customers back in a way that is safe for both workers and the public. Enabling these often small, independent businesses to reopen is yet another step in our plan to kickstart the economy to support jobs and incomes across the country," the Indian-origin Cabinet minister said.
Under the COVID-secure rules, only services that do not involve work in the highest risk zone - directly in front of the face - should be made available to clients.
This means that treatments such as face waxing, eyelash treatments, make-up application and facial treatments, cannot yet be provided due to the much greater risk of transmission of the deadly coronavirus.
Where two-metre social distancing cannot be maintained, for example when providing a treatment, the person providing the service should wear further protection in addition to any that they may usually wear. This should be a clear visor that covers the face, or the use of a screen or other barrier that protects the practitioner and the customer from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking, the government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said.
Using screens or barriers to separate clients from each other, and to separate practitioners from clients, such as in nail salons; operating an appointment-only booking system to minimise the number of people on the premises at any one time; keeping the activity time involved to a minimum; and not allowing food or drink, other than water, to be consumed in the salon by customers are among some of the additional precautions to be taken.
"The decision to broaden the scope of available hair and beauty services will allow many more beauty professionals to get back to work, and will also allow customers to benefit from a range of beauty treatments which can be carried out safely for both client and practitioner," said Millie Kendall of the British Beauty Council.
"It's a positive step, but we are still only part of the way there. We will keep working closely with governing bodies and supporting everyone in beauty until we are able to achieve the fully-reinvigorated beauty industry we all want," she said.
The guidance also applies to businesses that operate in different locations, such as massage therapists working in people's homes, and those learning in vocational training environments. Businesses will need to keep records of staff and customers and share these with the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace where requested, to help identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Helena Grzesk of the UK Spa Association said: "I am confident that these new government guidelines will help all spas and salons prepare in detail for a safe and successful reopening, and I look forward to our sector getting back to business during this difficult time."
"The evidence we provided demonstrated that spas have always operated as semi-clinical environments, and we were happy to work with BEIS to ensure the sector was able to begin to reopen as safely yet swiftly as possible, so that we could get back to helping the nation recover physically, mentally and emotionally post-lockdown."
Under the new rules, BEIS said that businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current health and safety legislation.
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