Jacqueline Chang.

After three months of living with a lion’s mane, Sarawakians were finally able to visit hair salons and barbershops starting last week. Three hairdressers shared their opinions on the reopening, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and how much their clients misses them.

Providing a safer and hygienic environment for clients

The moment the state government announced the opening of barbershops and hair salons statewide on June 9, many Sarawakians cheered at the notion. Finally, a haircut after three months of the movement control order (MCO).

However, out of fear of contracting the coronavirus, some are still sceptical of going out to get a haircut.

With stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, hairdressers are now practising the new norm within their businesses as they start to welcome the public.

As hairdressers are required to wear protective gear and safety equipment while giving haircuts, the government also allow an extra charge of RM5 for the extra costs incurred in complying with the recovery control movement order (RMCO) SOPs.

Jacqueline Chang.

Speaking on the SOPs, 42-year-old hairdresser Jacqueline Chang shared that before a client would be allowed to enter the salon, they would need to answer their health screening questionnaire. “They must also wear a face mask, check-in via the Qmunity app and get their temperature recorded.”

Always taking a precaution because of the current pandemic, Jacqueline also prepared a nano gun to spray disinfectants on her clients before they enter and as they exit the premise. She also made sure to sanitise the salon’s doors and handles, and those entering will have to wear a shoe cover. “I am very particular with health and safety because I am a parent with children at home,” she admitted.

As her salon opened its doors for the first time after three months, the award-winning hairdresser shared that she misses her work station and her clients. “Even though MCO started on March 18, I closed down my salon three days prior due to the safety of my employees, clients and family members.”

With the strict SOPs, one of the challenges that Jacqueline and her team currently face is sourcing for protective equipment and bearing the costs for sanitisers and disinfectants. “But we didn’t charge extra for them, we cover all the costs ourselves.”

Also exercising the strict SOPs, Lewis Fong’s challenge when it comes to reopening his business after the MCO was the difficulty in scheduling his clients. “We only take one client per session, so there are many still in the waiting list.” Apart from that, he also finds wearing protective gears uncomfortable.

Lewis Fong.

However, as a hairdresser, he acknowledges the need to protect himself and his clients. “Hence, having SOPs are essential to provide a safer and hygienic environment for everybody.” The 43-year-old hairdresser also had specifically invested in a sanitising system for his premise to ensure the safety and cleanliness.

Lewis recalled the first day of reopening, and how he needed some time to adapt to the new norm of working. “It took a while for me and my team to accept the fact that we are working with a new norm, but we were already well-organised as we have prepared long for this day to happen. We also cleaned and sanitised the salon thoroughly a day before.”

According to him, his clients were delighted to see him. “All the clients said they miss us, and we miss them too. Most of them were regulars who would visit every one or two months.”

With 14 years of experience in the field, Desel Lam shared the same sentiment as Lewis. He revealed that his clients had been texting and calling him, asking when they could get a hair cut. “They all complained about their long, messy hair! Some with scalp problem, hair fall and they wanted to get their hair treatment done.”

As a hairdresser committed to his clients, Desel was relieved that he could finally give his clients a good hair cut. “At the same time, I was also worried about the risk I am taking when going out.”

Desel Lam.

Nonetheless, he was thrilled to be able to work again after the long period of MCO.

At this moment, he only accepts appointments to avoid long queues at his salon to maintain good social distancing practice.

“Everyone is trying to accustom themselves to the new norm, slowly but surely, taking every precautionary measures needed as a client and a hairstylist.” He further opined that everyone has a part in overcoming the Covid-19 virus.

Regarding the SOPs at his salon, Desel would make sure every client check themselves in with Qmunity app or to manually fill in their previous whereabouts and details for easy contact tracing should anything happen.

“We also make sure everyone — from clients to our salon team — to use a mask, face shield, apron, gloves and others.” There would also be the practice of sanitising before going in and exiting the salon. “We also try to reduce cash payments by encouraging online payments.”