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Sri Lanka barbers seeking towels, salons struggling to obey Covid-19 rules

COVID CONTROLS: A hairdresser in France attending to a customer wearing a mask and plastic face shield.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s barbers do not have enough towels and beauty salons are also struggling to revamp their places of business to operate with cut down services to meet Coronavirus health rules, an industry official said.

Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has allowed salons and barber shops (called saloons in Sri Lanka) has given permission to open for business from May 11 with cut down services.

“The government allows us to do certain things only,” Sri Lanka Association of Hairdressers and Beauticians (SLAHAB), President, Nayana Karunaratne told EconomyNext.

“We are only permitted to do hair cutting, colouring and certain other services.”

Many barber shops do not have enough towels.

“Also there are some problems because some barber salons doing 30 40 haircuts per day but they don’t use more than 2 three towels. What can we do to them?”

The health ministry has also banned shaving, as it requires the barber to go close to the face of customer which the hair can be cut from behind and from a little distance.

Ministry of Health had asked salon owners to show the salon premises to the Public Health Inspectors to obtain a certificate of permission.

SLAHAB has more than 12, 000 salons registered under them throughout the country.

Karunarathna said SLAHAB has decided to inspect the salon premises and given them support to comply with health rules.





“First of all, after the curfew is over we have to go and train our staff and clean our premises” Karunaratne said.

“After cleaning the salon, we have to fill the applications given to us by the government and ask the PHI to come and supervise. After we get the approval we will decide whether we want to open the salons or not.”

Salons under the SLAHAB in any case has to meet NVQ standards to start the business, Karunaratne said

“We will decide whether the standards are there,” she said. “We have our NVQ standard which was done by the SLAHAB with the Australian government advice.”

Karunaratne said the most important thing for the public and service providers can do is to keep social distance properly to stop the spread.

“It is also a little bit hard because in this industry we have to get close to the customer in order to provide the service,” she said.

“But health and safety is the number one priority.”

Karunaratne also said the salon owners and beauticians are more vulnerable to the virus than the customer.

“Our beauticians are the ones who should be careful because they are working with multiple customers per day.”

Under Sri Lanka’s rules private voluntary testing is currently banned.

Karunaratne said with all the rules and regulations it is vital for the saloons to reopen as soon as possible as they had no livelihood.

“Most of them have to pay rent,” she said. “The government said they will pay our rent, but how can they do that if they can’t even pay state employees’ salaries.” (Colombo/ May 10/2020)

1. General

1.1 The purpose of this guideline is to facilitate limited activities of a salon considering this service as a public need during the prevailing COVID-19 outbreak.

1.2 Only the following procedures shall be performed in the salon

1.2.1 Cutting/trimming of hair

1.2.2 Dyeing of hair

1.2.3 Manicure and pedicure and 1.2.4 Waxing of arms and legs

1.3 Although the Ministry of Health and indigenous Medical services, allows the opening of salons for the above services considering the public need, physical distancing which is a prime control measure cannot be achieved between the barber/dresser and the customer in this setting.

Hence some special measures are described to be adopted in salons if they are to be opened and every facility should strictly ensure that these measures are adopted.

1.4 All the salons permitted to operate under this guideline shall limit their service only to the procedures described in section 1.2 and no other procedure shall be performed, as those procedures increase the risk for both the dresser and the customer.

1.5 The health authorities and the Police will monitor the activities of the salons and appropriate action will be taken against the salons which violate this rule.

2. Procedure for starting the saloon

2.1 Any owner/manager who intends to open his/her salon should make a request to the Medical officer of Health (MOH) in his area.

2.2 The MOH will issue an application together with a checklist (Annex 01) to the owner/manager and request him/her to comply with all the requirements of these guidelines.

2.3 The Owner/Manager shall fill the application and check his establishment against the prescribed checklist in Annex 01 and circle the appropriate answer in column2 of the checklist and handover the application to the MOH.

2.4 Alternatively the Owner/Manager can download the application from the Health Ministry website (health.gov.lk) and fill it and handover to the MOH.

2.5 The MOH shall direct the relevant Public Health Inspector (PHI) to check the facility against the checklist and make recommendations to the MOH.

2.6 The MOH will temporarily register the salon in his office and issue the certificate to commence the salon if the preparedness of the salon is satisfactory. The format of the commencement certificate is annexed to these guidelines as annex 02

2.7No saloon shall operate without a valid written commencement certificate issued by the area MOH.

3. Workforce arrangements

3.1 Larger institutions shall have a written COVID-19 preparedness and a response plan including human resource plan and a dedicated focal point to ensure proper implementation and supervision of the said plan.

3.2 Management should ensure that only the permanent or traceable staff is called for duty. The details of the staff such as addresses, national identity card numbers, telephone numbers, and details of closest relatives should be maintained by the owner/manager and a copy of such a document should be provided to the PHI/MOH of the area.

3.3 Following categories of workers should not report for work Those having fever, with or without acute onset respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sore throat and/or shortness of breath. Those who have had contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 for the last 14 days. Those who are quarantined for COVID-19.

3.4 The employer should ensure that if a sick person reports for work, he/she is sent back home immediately.

3.5 Anyone entering the premises (both visitors and workers) should wash their hands with soap and water before entering. (Foot operated tap is the best for the wash basin). Alternatively hand rubbing with alcohol based hand rub (minimum 70% v/v Alcohol) can be adopted.

Disinfecting chambers are not recommended. Use the hand sanitizer after using the fingerprint scanner if available. Fingerprint scanner shall be disinfected before and after each shift. Additional optional measures are to remove their shoes by all the staff at the entrance.

3.6 Check temperatures of all the staff and customers at the entrance. Any person recording a temperature above 98.4°F or 37 °C should be rechecked after 10-15 minutes of rest and if positive for the second time sent him/her back. Thermal scanner has to be of Medical grade.

4. Specific measures

4.1 Barber/dresser shall wear a mask and a goggle/eye shield throughout when attending to customers.

4.2 A foot operated bin for discarding used masks and tissues should be provided.

4.3 Ensure keeping everyone (dresser and customers) at the salon at least 1 meter physically apart except during the procedure. Number of customers entering the salon should be limited according to the space available in order to maintain distance of 1 meter. An appointment system is recommended

4.4 Furniture should be rearranged to ensure physical distancing.

4.5 Limit the number of persons in the waiting area. It is recommended that clients wait outside the salon in their vehicles until the barber is ready to serve them.

4.6 Limit physical interactions between workers, workers and staff.

4.7 Remove all unnecessary items such as magazines, newspapers, service menus, other unnecessary paper products and decor.

4.8 Every barber/dresser should wash his hands thoroughly with soap and water between each customer served.

4.09 Barber/dresser should always attend to the customer from behind and sides only and should never encounter face-to face.

4.10 Avoid sharing equipment and tools between barbers/dressers,

4.11 The service has to be performed in the minimum required time to limit exposure.

4.12 All linen (towels & capes) used should be washed after each use and should never be used on another customer without washing. The salon should have adequate amounts of linen at least for 2 days.

4.13 Shaving beards/mustache is not recommended.

4.14 Razor blades should be disposed of immediately after use and should never be reused.

4.15 Barber should never touch the lips of the customer.

4.16 Air conditioners with re-circulation of air are not recommended.

4.17 Leave the doors open as much as possible to avoid contact. If kept closed the door knobs/handles shall be cleaned and disinfected every three hours. Alternatively a separate employer can be kept to open and close the door for customers.

4.18All the services provided in the institution and all the special measures taken at the saloon shall be displayed both inside and outside the salon prominently for the customers to read and also be explained.

4.19 Ensure the strict supervision and monitoring of adherence to above measures.

5. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

5.1 In addition to the regular housekeeping practices, floor, equipment,and furniture should be sanitized every day before commencing work. Disinfect all furniture tops including the reception counter and chairs in waiting areas before starting the day. (Refer to disinfection in section 3.3 in the main guideline)

5.2 Disinfect the chair, the worktop and all the equipment and tools including combs and hair brushes after been used for one customer before they are used on another customer as per section 3.3 of the main guideline.

6. Waste disposal

Cut hair, nail shall be collected on to a waste collection bag after serving each customer. Once the bag is full tie it properly and store safely and should be disposed only after a week. There should be another bag to collect used disposable personal disposable items like masks, tissues and wipes. This bag also need to be disposed as mentioned above.

For further details, please refer, OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES ON PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE FOR COVID-19 OUTBREAK FOR WORK SETTINGS, Interim guidance dated 17th April 2020 document published by the Environmental and Occupational Health and Food Safety Directorate of the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services.

For any Inquiries about this guideline please contact

Dr. Ashman Gamlath, Deputy Director General (E,OH&FS) at Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical services on 071-7723232 or by email on [email protected]

Dr. Thilak Siriwardane, Director (E&OH) on 071-4499222 or by E-mail on [email protected]

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