In Scotland, hairdressers and barbers were able to open their doors on 15 July 2020, with reports of some salons opening at midnight to cope with demand. I’m sure many readers will have already been to the hairdressers, I certainly have my appointment booked. But the experience of attending a salon is likely to be different. I have set out below my top 10 tips for those operating in the sector while the risk of COVID-19 remains. These should also be considered by those offering personal, close contact retail services - such as beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo studios - with such businesses now permitted to open.

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

    You should conduct specific risk assessments to reflect the changes required to reduce the likelihood of transmission. Depending on your business, you should consult with health & safety representatives appointed by trade unions, employee appointed representatives, or employees directly regarding the risk assessment.

    As well as the measures listed below, the risk assessment might consider introducing measures such as (i) using shift bubbles to restrict interactions between staff, (ii) assigning working stations to individuals where possible and (iii) assigning one member of staff to each client.

    For further information the Scottish Government has prepared a checklist which provides a helpful starting point of things to consider.

    2. Maintain physical distancing where possible

      You should review the layout of your business and put in place measures to assist with social distancing, such as marking areas between seats and treatment stations. If it is not possible to maintain social distancing in waiting areas you may wish to consider implementing a one in one out system. You could also use Perspex screens between workstations and in reception areas.

      3. Consider what measures to implement where you can’t physically distance

      The area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present has been defined as the 'high-risk zone'. Treatments within the 'high-risk zone' are allowed in Scotland subject to limiting exposure to the front of the face as much as possible, for example, by working behind the head or to the side. This is in contrast to England and Wales where, presently, any services in the high-risk zone are not permitted.

      4. Wear a face covering

      In Scotland, staff and customers need to wear a face covering. Visors are recommended for staff. While face coverings are mandatory in Scotland, this is only recommended in England. However, from 24 July 2020 the rules regarding face coverings in England will change, with it being mandatory to wear a covering in shops and supermarkets. What is considered to be a shop is still to be clarified.

      While clients should be asked to bring a face covering with them, it would be wise to have some spare in stock in case they forget. You may also want to display posters encouraging their use in the salon.

      5. Limit the number of people in the salon

      Steps should be taken to restrict the number of people in the salon. This could include measures such as bookings being by appointment only, carrying out consultations virtually where possible, asking clients to attend the appointment on their own if they can, staggering appointment times to minimise overlap of clients and encouraging clients to arrive on time, rather than ahead of their appointment.

      6. Limit the number of potential contamination points in the salon

      To reduce the number of touch points which increase the risk of infection you should consider removing reading materials from your premises. You should also refrain from offering refreshments, other than water on request. You may also wish to close any toilet facility.

      7. Review your cleaning and hygiene procedures

      Consider any changes that need to be made to limit the risk of infection, such as cleaning tools between clients, not sharing tools between hairdressers/therapists, using fresh gowns and towels for every client and encouraging frequent hand-washing and the use of hand sanitiser. You may wish to ask clients to use hand sanitiser when entering the salon and/or prior to treatment.

      8. Train your employees

      It is important that your employees are trained on any updated procedures and policies to ensure they are aware of the changes and know how to implement them. If you have workers on your premises who are not your employees, you should make sure that they adhere to your control measures and that they assess any additional risks relevant to the work they are carrying out.

      9. Retain client contact details

      Close contact services such as hair and beauty salons are asked to collect customer contact details to assist with the NHS Test and Protect strategy. There is no legal obligation on businesses to collect this information and provision of information by customers is voluntary. It is important that businesses understand the data protection implications of this and ensure that they collect and use this information in a lawful manner. 

      More information: Reopening of the hospitality sector: contact tracing records and data protection

      10. Communicate with clients before their visit

      Get in touch with your clients to let them know about any changes as a result of COVID-19 before they attend your premises. Advise them of any new hygiene rules and remind them to bring a face covering and not attend their appointment if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.


      Lynn Livesey

      Legal Director