Barbers have started reopening their salons in Pimpri-Chinchwad, two months after they were forced to shut down businesses due to a nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. While they have received a green signal by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to open their shops, there is no such permission issued to barbers by the Pune Municipal Corporation so far.
Through an order issued on Friday, the Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal commissioner allowed salons and beauty parlours to reopen. Late on Saturday, the civic body issued strict guidelines on how to run barbers’ shops/beauty parlours by adopting strict social distancing norms. The administration has allowed only salons outside containment zones to reopen.
“We have framed strict norms to ensure that reopening salons does not lead to further spread of the infection,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar.
According to the norms, only salons operating from legal buildings with proper water connections have permission to operate. Barbers have been directed to install foot-operated or no-contact sanitiser dispenser. Inside the salon, a barber can service only one customer if the shop has two chairs. If the salon has five chairs, only two customers will be permitted at once. Customers have to get an appointment over the phone so as to avoid crowding inside the salon. The barber should disinfect hands before and after cutting customers’ hair. While masks are mandatory, customers can remove them during a haircut or shave. Barbers should keep a set of new napkins and soak old ones in sodium hypochlorite (1 per cent) for 30 minutes before reusing them.
The directives also state that customers should be encouraged to bring their own napkins. If it was not possible to disinfect shaving brush each time, then shaving should be done with foam or gel.
Barbers have also been directed to ensure that a customer occupies the chair only after it has been disinfected. For a head massage or face massage, disposable gloves are mandatory. Every four hours, barbers should disinfect their salon. Shops will remain open from 9 am to 5 pm.
Barbers said they will strictly adhere to all norms. “Salons are reopening slowly due to strict social distancing norms. We are trying to ensure that we have the entire kit with us before we start. A few salons have started, but full-fledged services will start after Eid on Tuesday,” said Shamsher Shaikh, general secretary of Maharashtra Salmani Vikas Samaj Sanstha.
Shaikh said the barber community had gone through a rough time during the lockdown period. “Many barbers live on a hand-to-mouth basis. They come from a poor background. At least 9 per cent of them work from rented premises. Rents are rising by the day. Whatever they earn in a day is almost spent on their family expenditure. They hardly have any savings. Permission to reopen businesses has brought some cheer,” he said.
He added, “We have already directed that crowding should be completely avoided and use of sanitisers and disinfectants is mandatory.”
Javed Shaikh, who runs a salon in Kasarwadi area, said, his family had undergone an extremely tough phase. “My earnings were nil for two months. I would earn Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 earlier. I pay Rs 4,000 monthly rent. I did not have savings… I have decided to call customers through appointment over the phone, one at a time. No customer will be allowed to enter my shop without a mask,” he said.
On Sunday, he allowed only one customer at a time. “Through the day, it was a similar pattern. I want to keep the infection at bay,” he said.
Ramzan Shaikh of Gurav Pimple said, “I sat twiddling my thumbs over the past two months, there was no business. I was worrying about the money I had to borrow. The barber community has always adhered to norms and we will run our business as per guidelines,” he added.
Citizens, meanwhile, have had a tough time managing their own grooming. “I had to give my son a haircut, but many invited barbers to their homes,” said Kiran Dhanavate, a resident of Gurav Pimple.
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