Understanding how the salon sector is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Kanishka Ramchandani brings you an exclusive report
As per an order issued by the Government of Delhi, all operations of gymnasiums and spas have been suspended till 31st of March in the National Capital Territory of Delhi for prevention and control of COVID-19. While this has come as a serious blow to the bottom lines of spas in the capital, in the wake of the rapid spread of the disease, it is an apt decision. The Government of Maharashtra has ordered private establishments to work at 50% of its workforce capacity. Government of Assam too has issued orders to close down salons. Will other state governments follow the suit? It’s a matter of ‘wait and watch’ for the industry.
Since the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic and the rising number of its victims, the salon industry in India has tightened its belt to combat the spread of the virus. The salon and spa sector, which is anyway a hygiene-sensitive business, comes directly under the radar of this disease that spreads with touch. Till last week, most salon owners were battling the decreasing numbers of footfall to the salon. With the closing down of malls across India, salons present in malls were the worst hit. This week the scenario has changed drastically as many standalone salons as well as chains are opting to close down salons till the COVID-19 storm passes over.
Hygiene becomes No. 1 priority
Samir Srivastav, CEO, Jean-Claude Biguine Salon & Spa India, says, “Hygiene has always been a No.1 priority at Jean Claude Biguine. We have immediately set up additional safety measures to ensure a healthy environment for all. All the employees at the salon, be it the stylist or the floor staff, need to follow the strict health and hygiene protocol. They also have to routinely disinfect their hands with expert-approved sanitiser. To maintain salon hygiene, we have increased the frequency of complete salon disinfection.”
Additionally, at JCB Salons, the reporting of sanitation roster by the Salon Operations Team goes directly to the CEO Office. To keep a record and to ensure that the clients availing the services are fit, JCB asks them to fill up a self-declaration form. This helped in understanding their recent travel history and health conditions. All the details in the form are kept confidential. However, as the risk of the COVID-19 virus increased, JCB shut down operations across all salons from the 19th of March.
Enrich Salons and Academy have also set up stringent measures and have sent out communication to all their registered customers. The message reads: ‘At Enrich, your safety and well-being is our first priority. We continue using hand sanitisers, single use kits, disposable aprons, towels and sterilised equipment. In addition, we have implemented measures like face masks, infrared thermometers and self-declaration forms for even more diligence.’
Savio John Pereira Salons had issued a list of dos and don’ts for both staff and clients that included checking travel history, health condition, disinfecting and sterilising equipment, washing hands with soap, using alcohol-based sanitisers, avoiding handshakes and hugs and stocking up the salons with tissues, soaps and hand cleansers.
As days progressed, Savio John Pereira declared their salons shut. Calling it a conscientious decision, Savio John said their salons were closed from 17th March onward as a preventive measure to contain the spread of the virus. Nalini of Nalini and Yasmin Salon also put up a notice of shutting down from 18th March onward. MUAH Salon and Envi Salons have also closed down. No definite date of the salons’ re-opening were mentioned. Salons that provide home services have decided to do so with caution. More salons are likely to join the fray and announce a lockdown.
Another area of the salon industry that has witnessed repercussions of the pandemic is the trade exhibition sector. Key for salon sourcing and education, the trade shows are an integral part of the beauty industry. Professional Beauty India – Kolkata Edition has been re-scheduled to 27th and 28th of July while Make Up Week will be held on 8th and 9th of June, 2020. Both Hair and Beauty Show India and Cosmoprof India have been postponed to October 2020.
Speaking about this, Vikas Vij, CEO, IDEX – the organisers of Professional Beauty India says, “We’ve been assessing the outbreak almost on a daily basis since February both at domestic and global levels. Initially, the outbreak was more focused on the China region and didn’t seem to be an issue that was causing significant concerns outside of the region. However, in recent weeks the matter has escalated at an alarming rate across different parts of the world, especially in Europe and the US before eventually hitting India. Given nothing like this has been experienced in our lifetimes, it’s a cause for concern that has naturally caught everyone by surprise, resulting in the private sector having to make decisions instead of waiting for Government advice.
What it has meant for us as an organisation is taking tough decisions regarding our shows in order to protect the health and safety of our clients, partners, vendors and employees. And we’ve also actioned our own business contingency plans in terms of work from home policy and ensuring our team do not undertake any non-essential travel.”
He continues, “Over the last week with the issue becoming a more serious concern in India supported by strong advisory coming from both Central and State Governments, we decided it was prudent to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of our stakeholders hence the tough decision to postpone our upcoming shows.
Asha Hariharan, Owner, Beyond the Fringe Salons, has taken extra precautionary steps to ensure that her clients are not just safe but are also comfortable during the services.
Rigour and resolve is key to working through the current situation. It is vital to understand the points of contact in which your staff and your clients are exposed to each other’s touch, and maintain necessary sanitation steps while doing so. So far, there has been no reported case of COVID-19 having spread at a salon or spa. This goes to show how much care and thought our industry members have put in maintaining hygiene. Kudos to the Indian salon industry for facing the COVID-19 situation with a brave face!