Looking better for bad hair days: salons open up under advanced level 3 lockdown

21 June 2020 - 00:00 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Hairdressing has gone underground during the lockdown but from this week it will be legal again.
Hairdressing has gone underground during the lockdown but from this week it will be legal again.
Image: Esa Alexander

Like cigarettes and, until recently, alcohol, hairdressing has gone underground during the lockdown.

This week it will reopen officially amid “stringent safety requirements”, after minister of small business development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni gazetted protocols for the personal care services industry to curb Covid-19 on Friday. But for thousands of stylists it will mean only the end of their defiance.

Sarah Makoza, who runs her salon in the Cape Town township of Langa, said she had played “cat and mouse” with the authorities.

“My husband and my younger sister are dependent on me. I also have a baby on the way. It’s been almost four months without a steady income,” Makoza said.

“My husband works in the film industry and his company might only open during level 1 because he works with foreign film crews.”

Makoza has also had to pay rent for her shipping-container salon in a resident’s driveway.

“We close the door and sit outside and wait for clients. A few come through and we take the necessary precautions,” she said.

In Gugulethu, Mvuyo Shenxane walked into a barbershop a few metres from the police station last week. It was his first visit in three months.

“No-one else can cut my hair but this guy. I have been his client for more than four years. I knew they were open all along, so I decided to take a chance today,” he said.

Owner Allie Munisho said bills had made it impossible to wait for the government to reopen the industry. “We have had no encounter with the police so far,” he said.


The rent Sarah Makoza pays monthly for her hair salon

“Some of our customers called us to their homes. It’s still tough but we have seen an increase in the number of people coming in the past couple of days.”

A Salt River barber who declined to be named said two staff had quit during the lockdown. “They both started working illegally from home, like me. I have to make ends meet and provide for my family.”


Rent for her flat

Wade Viljoen, owner of Wade & Co Hair Design in the Cape Town CBD, said he had stuck to the letter of the law but with difficulty.

“Our landlord gave us 25% discount on rent during the first month. After that nothing was offered and we still have our bills piling up,” he said.

Nicholas Lombard, owner of The Hadfield in Woodstock, said: “It feels like business has been taken away from us. I can only hope that things return to normalcy as soon as possible. Many salons have actually closed.”


Her food bill

Ntshavheni’s move followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Wednesday that salons will be allowed to open under “advanced level 3” of the Covid-19 lockdown. Businesses that can reopen with immediate effect include hairdressers, barbers, nail bars, beauty parlours, tattooists and body piercers.


Younger sister's school fees

This has changed the complexion of the DA’s Cape Town high court bid to compel cooperative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to open the industry.

Dean Macpherson, DA spokesperson on trade & industry, said the party will still challenge the constitutionality of the ban on personal care services but the matter will move to the court’s semi-urgent roll.

“We will continue to hold Dlamini-Zuma accountable for her actions and inactions during this lockdown,” he said. 

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