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House calls, job losses and a petition signed by thousands - beauty industry under siege

04 May 2020 - 06:37 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said haridressers and nail salons are not permitted to reopen during level 4 of lockdown.
Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said haridressers and nail salons are not permitted to reopen during level 4 of lockdown.
Image: Alon Skuy

The announcement on Wednesday by cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that the beauty industry will not be permitted to operate under level 4 of the lockdown came as a blow for business owners in the beauty industry.

Dlamini-Zuma said hairdressers and nail salons would only be allowed to operate under level 1 of the lockdown as their operations are “too risky."

“You can do it yourself", she said after announcing that beauty products, previously deemed as non-essential, would be sold under level 4.

Thousands signed an online petition launched by the Employer's Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty on Saturday, asking government to reconsider its decision.

“The survival of our industry and the survival of those participating in it is at the mercy of the Covid-19 Commission Command Centre. Under strict hygiene and safety measures, our industry will be able to serve the public without compromising efforts in place to combat the spreading of and exposure to Covid-19," reads its description. 

Linda Sinclair, chief executive designate at Sorbet, and Gary Rom, chief executive of Gary Rom Hairdressing, told TimesLIVE salons were shut on the first day of the lockdown.

Kelly Fernandes and Jenna Goncalves, owners of Ginger hair salon, closed two days before the lockdown. 

Job losses

So far, none of Sorbet's 3,500 employees in their 220 salons across the country have lost their jobs, but the continued closure of businesses could result in catastrophic losses for the industry and for those who depend on the incomes earned by their staff.

“At Sorbet we are doing everything possible to ensure the continued employment of our staff. Should the business remain closed, this will result in job losses. Our employees are mostly female and are often the sole breadwinners in their families. They support many dependents, conservatively estimated to be about 20,000 people,” said Sinclair.

At Gary Rom Hairdressing, some employees have already endured a month without income due to the business losing millions since SA went under lockdown.

“We have 13 branches countrywide and have lost between R5-milion and  R6m during the lockdown. Some branches were able to get into the UIF relief scheme but other have not. This means our stylists are not getting paid as we are on a no work, no pay basis,” said Rom.

At Ginger, the lockdown has left 12 employees without jobs.


Hygiene, social distancing and thorough cleaning of surfaces are some of the ways in which citizens have been encouraged to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

Dlamini-Zuma on Wednesday urged businesses which will resume operations on Friday to be “Covid-19 ready” to ensure the safety of their staff.

Salon owners said they are armed with measures to prevent possible transmissions between customers and employees. These include regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment, screening of staff and customers, limiting the number of employees per store, and the provision of face masks and hand gloves. 

Demand during lockdown

Some may argue that salons don't offer essential services and therefore shouldn't open for the duration of the lockdown, but customers have been reaching out, with some even asking for home calls.

“There has already been a massive demand from clients asking when we will be trading and wanting to make bookings. We can be sure that once we open, it will possibly be busier than December,” said Goncalves.

A reopening would have meant an initial increase in demand for Sorbet.

We are anticipating a slight increase in the initial demand for our services on opening   which will then normalise.”

Gary Rom hairdressing does not plan to take house calls. 

We will not operate illegally by taking house calls. We want to do things right. Taking house calls will only result the spread of more diseases," said Rom.