A hairdresser carefully removes elastic strings off a customer’s ears before taping the mask to her cheeks with medical tape. “This will keep the mask on without getting the strings wet,” the hairdresser, who dons an all-white uniform, explains one of the health and safety procedures to a woman sitting at a hair-wash station, her hair flowing down the basin, ready for a good wash. She has put on a thin, green raincoat-like covering to protect herself and others amid the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted all parts of the world.
Whilst her hair is washed, a recorded video explaining the thorough health and safety measures taken by the salon’s management plays on a loop. However, she cannot hear the audio very well because of the make-shift plastic separators set up around the station.
The spacious salon space seems even bigger now as customers sit two seats away from each other. A similar scene can be seen at many beauty salons and barbershops across the capital city of Jakarta, where people are once again allowing themselves to be pampered under the so-called new normal phase.
Eight months after salons and barbershops were allowed to open their doors again following a lockdown, some Jakartans seem to still be reluctant on visiting them, and those who choose to come in are embracing the new normal.
When the transition large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) measures were implemented for the first time in June, 2020, Jakartans geared up to once again carry out activities in places they were not able to visit during the complete lockdown.
Beauty salons and personal grooming parlors, which were among those impacted by the lockdown and restriction policies, prepared to welcome customers back and revive their businesses.
Under the new normal, everyone has been warned time and time again, that this is not a green light for things to return to normal. People are still being asked to adhere to strict health protocols, including maintaining distancing, washing hands with running water and soap regularly, using hand sanitizers when water is unavailable, and wearing masks.
However, owner of ARTE Barber, Karina Renata, felt the need for extra safety measures to ensure maximum protection.
“We have prepared a set of health and safety guidelines to ensure that we are protecting not only ourselves, but, of course, our customers as well,” she told ANTARA.
In accordance with the government regulation to limit occupancy to 50 percent, ARTE Barber is prioritizing customers who make prior reservations and only allowing two people into the premises at a time, that is, one customer and one barber. Customers are being asked to wear masks, as well as barbers, who are wearing face shields and gloves for extra protection.
“We have taken our hygiene very seriously, even way before the pandemic. We always provide fresh towels and barber capes, and routinely disinfect our chairs, tools, and counters,” Renata wrote on ARTE Barber’s Instagram page.
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Considering the nature of grooming procedures that involve close proximity between barbers and customers, Renata has decided to adapt services to the circumstances, including by scraping off a couple of treatments, such as the hot towel and massages, and formulating a safe at-home service procedure.
“Each step is done with utmost care and great consideration, down to the little details, so that customers are safe and comfortable in our hands,” she added.
Protecting each other
"A sense of normalcy” was what prompted 28-years-old Nadya to get her nails done at her regular pre-pandemic beauty parlor.
“I was reluctant at first, but after a couple of months (since June, 2020), I gave in and decided to get my nails done. It gives me a sense of normalcy and I feel a little bit fresher afterwards,” she elaborated.
Prior to her visit, she admitted to researching the health protocols implemented at the parlor. When she discovered that she would be sitting in her own make-shift ‘cubicle’ with only her toes and fingers making contact with the nail technician, she was convinced to book her appointment.
“When I come in, I wear my mask the entire time as well as a face shield. I use a hand sanitizer or wash my hands when I can. I also change my clothes immediately upon returning home,” she said, adding that it is important for her to not only be protected, but to also protect the people she comes in contact with.
Although pampering and grooming treatments can be seen as less essential in the list of activities, a number of economists have agreed that the sector makes a substantial contribution to the services sector and pushes the growth of the domestic manufacturing industry, according to national media reports.
A revival of the beauty and grooming services sector can be beneficial both to the economy and the people. However, it is imperative to observe health protocols strictly and properly, rather than simply ticking off boxes. (INE)
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