The Government has been urged to ensure “stricter enforcement” of coronavirus rules in England after complaints that some hairdressers were failing to wear visors or ensure social distancing.
The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF), which represents the industry, said it wanted the Government to ensure rules were adhered to as it was unfair on businesses that carried out their work safely.
While most are believed to be following the guidance issued to allow reopening last week, there are questions over what checks are in place to catch those failing to comply.
Some customers also appeared unsure of where to complain if they encountered problems.
Heather Sutton, a policy adviser from Alrewas in Staffordshire, told the PA news agency she had visited a hairdresser and been left in tears due to the lack of precautions in place.
Despite Government guidance stating that all hairdressers must wear visors, Ms Sutton claimed she was told by the member of staff cutting her hair that was not wearing one because “they’re horrible and steam up”.
“I have since emailed her telling her I won’t be returning and why and saying she should put her customers’ health and safety first.”
She added that she had considered reporting the salon, but “it would appear the guidance is not backed up with legislation, so there isn’t anyone to actually report her to”.
While rules in Scotland and Wales are based in legislation, those in England are instead based on guidance which is not in itself legally enforceable.
However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has powers to fine or even imprison business owners found not to comply with the rules.
Members of the public looking to complain about businesses failing to work safely within the rules can do so via HSE or their local council, though how to do so is not always clear.
Yvonne, aged 41, owns a tattoo shop in the Macclesfield, Cheshire with her husband. She said she was frustrated to see a nearby hairdresser failing to ensure social distancing between customers or wear proper protective gear.
“Then cutting hair, no gloves, visor or mask present on either the client or the barber.”
She added that she felt not enough was being done to make sure companies were sticking to the guidance.
“It’s disgraceful, to be honest. To allow a sector that works so close to people’s faces to open, and then have no measures in place to enforce these new guidelines is ridiculous.”
After being contacted by PA about the breaches, the NHBF said: “The National Hair & Beauty Federation strongly advises that hairdressers and barbers follow the guidance issued by the Government for England.
“The guidelines are based on the most up to date scientific evidence. Face visors must be worn by anyone carrying out hairdressing, barbering or beauty activities.
“The NHBF would welcome stricter enforcement because it’s only fair that all businesses stick to the same rules, which also give greater protection to the public and to the people working in salons and barbershops.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been approached for comment.