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Sat, 24 October 2020

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Labour warns BAME women will be hard-hit by ongoing beauty treatment curbs as lockdown eases

Labour warns BAME women will be hard-hit by ongoing beauty treatment curbs as lockdown eases

Vanita Parti of the Blink Brow Bar chain said her industry had ‘been on a rollercoaster ride since the end of June’. (PA)

4 min read

Black, asian and minority ethnic women working in the beauty sector could be particularly hard hit by ongoing coronavirus restrictions on a host of treatments, Labour has warned.

Shadow Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova said curbs on face waxing, eyelash treatments and other close contact services would “make the crisis even worse for those who have already been disproportionately affected“ by Covid-19.

Ministers have confirmed that beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios can reopen from July 13 provided they are obeying the Government’s ‘Covid-secure’ guidance.

Those providing permitted treatments will have to wear a clear visor to cover their faces and keep records of customers to help with Covid-19 contact tracing.

But the Government has ruled out the immediate return of services that “involve work in the highest risk zone — directly in front of the face” in a bid to avoid the spread of the virus.

The means eyelash and facial treatments, make-up application, derma-rolling and “intricate detailing” of facial hair cannot yet continue.

Announcing the changes, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We have been clear throughout this crisis that we want as many businesses as possible to reopen, but we must be confident it is safe for them to do so.

“From Monday 13 July thousands more businesses which offer close contact services like nail and beauty salons will be able to welcome customers back in a way that is safe for both workers and the public.”

But Ms de Cordova warned that women of colour could bear the brunt of the ongoing restrictions.

“The Government’s half-baked plans for re-opening beauty salons put at risk thousands of jobs overwhelmingly held by women, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic women in particular,” the shadow cabinet minister said.

She added: “This week, the chancellor ignored Labour’s calls to carry out and publish an equality impact assessment of what impact his Summer Statement would have on different groups. 

“With the proposals as they stand, this government will make the crisis even worse for those who have already been disproportionately affected.

“Yet again this Government is failing to target its support at those who need it most."

Speaking on the Today programme on Friday morning, Vanita Parti, founder of the Blink Brow Bar chain, said she was “absolutely furious” at the Government’s decision. 

“I feel our industry has been on a rollercoaster ride since the end of June,” she said.

“We were led to believe we could open up on July 4 in line with hairdressers. We were then deemed unsafe. 

“We waited patiently for the announcement this week, we were absolutely thrilled when we heard it, we had a moment of celebration until we read the small print, which said the brows and lashes would be excluded, as they were considered as high-risk treatments.”

She added: “Our therapist stands behind the client, not in front of the client.

“She will be wearing a mask and a visor and gloves, the customer will be wearing a mask.

“You have to remove the mask to trim a beard. And I believe that we are safe. 

“Our customers are as safe as if they will be going to the pub or the gym or to swim in a swimming pool. It just seems inconsistent.”

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said she “completely” understood the “frustration” among business owners at the ongoing restrictions. 

She added: “270,000 people work in the hair and beauty industry and it generates £7bn pounds a year for the British economy, so o this is not a decision that's ever taken lightly.

"But we need to take steps in the right direction and establish what's safe, and then work to work to open up.”

Millie Kendall, chief executive of the British Beauty Council, which worked with the Government on the reopening plans, said: “The decision to broaden the scope of available hair and beauty services will allow many more beauty professionals to get back to work, and will also allow customers to benefit from a range of beauty treatments which can be carried out safely for both client and practitioner. 

“It’s a positive step, but we are still only part of the way there. We will keep working closely with governing bodies and supporting everyone in beauty until we are able to achieve the fully-reinvigorated beauty industry we all want.”

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