The Maharashtra government on Thursday allowed salons across the state to open from June 28, but only for hair cuts. Salon operators urged the government to review this restriction and allow full-fledged operation of salons.
“The state government has decided to allow salons to open from June 28. Only hair cuts are allowed… we will observe the situation for a few days and then take a decision regarding full-fledged opening of salons,” Transport Minister Anil Parab said after a cabinet meeting in Mumbai on Thursday.
“Those who visit salons will have to use masks. Barbers will also have to wear masks and ensure that social distancing norms are followed,” he added.
Kalyan Dale, president of Maharashtra Nabhik Mahamandal, an umbrella organisation of nearly nine lakh salon operators in the state, said, “We are happy at the government move to restart salons after three months and ease our hardships, but we are not satisfied with the manner in which the government has taken the decision. It is a halfhearted measure…”.
“Like the industrial sector and other shops have been allowed to operate by following strict social distancing norms, we too are ready to follow the norms. In fact, barbers have purchased safety kits, sanitisers, disposable napkins, disposable blades, special machines and scissors… the government’s fears are unfounded…,” he said.
Shamsher Shaikh, a member of the Mahandal, said the government should see the way salons in some rural areas, which are in the green zone, have operated. “In rural areas as well as in cities like Pimpri-Chinchwad, salons operated for a week or so, but not a single positive case was reported,” he said.
Dale said the Mahamandal had sought a financial package, including Rs 5,000 cash assistance for every barber, waiver of interest on loans and waiver of rent for their shops. “But the government has remained silent on our demands. It has not even made any promise,” he said.
The Maharashtra Nabhik Mahamandal said it did not wait for the government to issue guidelines but took proactive steps on its own to create awareness about social distancing norms and safety precautions. “The problem of Covid-19 is more serious in cities like Mumbai and Pune. In rural areas, salons are the lifelines of thousands of people who can’t find any other jobs… for the sake of these people, the government should review its decision,” said Dale.
The barbers have, however, opposed the bid to make PPE kits mandatory. “PPE kits should be made available to the barbers by local civic bodies. Otherwise it will be difficult for them to operate as PPE kits are costly and have to be disposed of after one use,” the Mahamdal said.
Vikram Bhatt, founder of Enrich Salons, which runs 54 outlets in Mumbai and nine in Pune, among others across India, said, “Opening up of salons from this week is a much-awaited and welcome move. In the other states where the industry has re-opened since a month, we have been following safety guidelines and protocols stringently, and there has been no spike in transmission that is attributed to this industry. It is important for the industry to begin operations since livelihood of lakhs of barbers and their families depend on their business. Given the pandemic, we have reviewed each of our existing SOPs and have made compliance more stringent. “
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