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Keeping clients and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic

The Government has issued a comprehensive document entitled Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services” to assist in the running of close contact businesses, including hair salons and barbershops, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The document contains guidelines, which have the objective of keeping clients safe by minimising the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and to protect their health whilst in the hairdressing salon or barbershop. In this article, we breakdown some of the key elements and useful reference links to help you navigate the safe running of your business during the pandemic.

As the owner of a hairdressing salon or barbershop, you should:

  • Carry out a risk assessment
  • Encourage clients to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises or before a treatment
  • Calculate the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines
  • Keep a temporary record of your customers and visitors
  • Ensure staff and customers wear appropriate face coverings
  • Inform clients and contractors of guidance about visiting your premises prior to and at the point of arrival
  • Display information on your website, on booking forms and in entrance ways
  • Review your working practices to minimise the duration of contact with the client

Your risk assessment must include the specific risks related to coronavirus

As a hair salon or barbershop owner, you are obliged to look after your employees and clients to reduce risks to the lowest practicable level. It is essential that your risk assessment addresses the unique risks of COVID-19 to include measures that include maintaining the social distancing rules (currently 1m with risk mitigation, if 2m isn’t viable) and implementing extra cleaning and hygiene measures. It is advised that you consult with and share the results of your risk assessment with your staff and publish the results.

Keep a record of customers and visitors

To be compliant with current regulations on NHS Test and Trace, you should have a system in place to collect the details of your clients. You probably will have one of these in place, but if you don’t you will need to devise a system that will work for you and is manageable. If you have employees, you should also keep a record of all staff and shift time on a given day.

To further assist NHS Track and Trace, you can now generate an NHS QR poster so that customers and visitors can ‘check’ in using this option as an alternative or in addition to providing their contact details. For more information and to create a poster for your business, click here.

Any business that is found not to be compliant with these regulations will be subject to financial penalties.

COVID-19 related screening questions

You must contact clients ahead of their appointment and ask them questions about the possibility of them having contracted coronavirus. Questions can include:

  • Have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
  • Do you have a high temperature?
  • Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell

It is imperative that if a client is displaying any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment.

Employ stringent cleaning and hygiene measures for the opening of customer toilets

You will need the toilet facilities to be open at your hairdressing salon or barbershop and you must adopt clear guidelines to ensure and promote good hygiene, social distancing and cleanliness.

  • Display signs/posters to show good handwashing techniques, the need for more frequent handwashing and the requirement to sneeze or cough into a tissue
  • Place social distancing markers where toilet queues are formed
  • Instigate a one in and one out system
  • Make hand sanitiser units available on entry to the toilets if possible
  • Ensure there is a suitable supply of running water, liquid soap and drying options including paper towels and/or hand driers
  • Increase the frequency of toilet cleaning
  • Use disposable cloths or paper roll for cleaning
  • Keep toilets well ventilated
  • Display the cleaning schedule
  • Provide extra facilities for waste collection

Communication with your customers

It is your responsibility as the hair salon or barbershop owner to ensure that clients and visitors know what they must do to maintain safety. Clear guidance must be given before arrival, when making the appointment and when clients come to the salon or barbershop. This will include informing clients of their expected behaviour, social distancing rules, face-covering policy and hygiene measures. Services will not be able to be provided if safety measures are not adhered to. Your staff must also be briefed and receive appropriate training if necessary. If you employ freelance workers, they, too, should be briefed on safety and the procedures that you have in place.

  • Provide written and oral communication to clients and staff
  • Display posters with information about client behaviour to keep people safe
  • Communicate with the visually and hearing impaired
  • Provide a safety briefing for onsite protocols
  • Explain rules for shared areas and other facilities
  • Display the latest guidelines throughout your premises

Cleaning your hairdressing salon and barbershop

Keeping your premises clean is of upmost importance to keep clients and workers safe. Here are some key steps that should be implemented:

  • Space appointments 
  • Clean high-touch objects regularly
  • Clean workstations thoroughly between clients
  • Keep windows and doors open to maintain good ventilation
  • Wedge doors open to avoid touch points (this does not apply to fire doors)
  • At the end of a shift, clear the work area and remove any rubbish and belongings
  • Sanitise all reusable equipment such as chairs after each client and at the end of the shift
  • Magazines and other reading materials cannot be provided for clients
  • Use a disposable gown for every client if possible
  • Wear a clean uniform on a daily basis
  • Use electronic payments where possible

By spacing appointments, it will allow you to carry out the frequent cleaning of work areas between clients and to clean surfaces and objects that are touched regularly. This will include door handles and hairdressing and barber’s equipment such as scissors and hairbrushes.

Moving around the salon or barbershop

The aim is to maintain social distancing and to constantly remind staff and clients of their obligations. Barriers or screens can be placed between, behind or in front of workstations and at washbasins and in reception areas. Floor markings will remind people to maintain their distance and the introduction of a one-way system will help the flow of people. 

Managing the workforce

Between furlough, shielding and lockdowns, many employees will have been away from the workplace for many months. As things reopen and we move into our ‘new’ normal, it is important that they feel they are coming back to a safe environment. You will need to implement training on the safety measures that you have put into place not only for them but for your customers and visitors too. The only way to keep your customers safe is to ensure your employees are safe and that they understand they cannot work if they develop symptoms. You will need to know the steps you have to take if an employee becomes unwell with possible coronavirus symptoms. If you have employees who cannot work, please read our guide.

Procedures for back of house areas and staff breaks

  • Stagger staff break times
  • Use outside areas if possible
  • Use additional space in the building if any is available
  • Encourage staff to bring in their own food and drinks
  • Use social distancing markers in staff rooms, toilets, changing rooms etc.

PPE and face coverings, including the wearing of a clear visor

Any PPE equipment that is already utilised for treatments, including gloves, should continue to be worn. In hairdressing salons and barbershops, is impossible to socially distance as the person providing the service and the client have to be in close proximity for an extended period of time, so the sector falls into the high-risk retail category under Government guidelines. Guideslines recommend that all barbers and hairdressers wear a clear visor that covers the face, thus forming a barrier. Visors should cover the forehead, extend below the chin and wrap around the side of the face. Disposable and reusable visors are available and if the latter is used it must be sanitised and cleaned regularly. It is also highly recommended to wear:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Face masks
  • Goggles
  • Aprons

Clients are required by law to wear a face mask in nail, beauty and hair salons, and barbershops, unless they are exempt.

Workforce management

The way your employees work will have to change so that the level of contact that each worker has with other members of staff is reduced. This means that where contact is unavoidable, it should occur between the same people. During shift handovers, a process should be set up so that social distancing requirements can be adhered to.

  • Split staff into teams or shift groups
  • Remain at the same workstation where possible
  • Stagger shift start times
  • Keep your workforce informed
  • Keep a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days to assist NHS Test and Trace
  • Encourage staff to walk, cycle or drive to work where possible avoiding public transport

If public transport is the only option for any member of your staff to get to work, they will need to wear a face covering, as it is mandatory. 


Social distancing must be maintained when your employees are at their workstations. The layout of your hairdressing salon or barbershop must be reviewed to ensure social distancing can be maintained, which is 2m or 1 m with risk mitigation when 2m isn’t viable. You may have to consider closing off alternate chairs. There is no requirement to create a physical barrier between the client and your employee when the practitioner is wearing a visor.

  • Assign a workstation to one member of staff
  • Ensure sufficient spacing between client chairs
  • Tape the floor with distancing markings
  • Do not allow appointments to overrun or overlap
  • Ask clients to arrive punctually at their appointment time
  • Use Perspex screens to create a barrier between workstations if possible

You should keep up to date with Government guidance and update your measures where necessary. More information on keeping your clients, visitors and staff safe when you are back open for business can be found on the following sites:

What can The Retail Mutual do for your business?

The Retail Mutual understands that this has been a difficult and frustrating time for close contact service businesses.

We have created a dedicated resource hub to help independent business owners affected by coronavirus. This includes useful Government information and links, and a range of informative articles to help you navigate your way through the pandemic.

At The Retail Mutual, we have seen first-hand the damage risks can have on a business and so we have produced a Risk Assessment Guide which includes a free risk assessment template and includes a COVID-19 risk update. Don’t take the risk when it comes to risks, click here to download our free risk assessment guide now.

We have been serving independent businesses for over 20 years and if you would like to find out more about what we can do for your business or to obtain a quote for your business cover, call our UK-based Member Services Team on 0333 2121 280. We look forward to hearing from you.

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