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At last: relief for personal care

There was a huge sigh of relief from hairdressers and others in the personal care industry last week when Pres Cyril Ramaphosa announced they would be allowed to reopen under strict conditions with the revised level 3 lockdown regulations.

For businesses “that have not earned any revenue and individuals who have not had any income for over 80 days’’ it’s long overdue.

The directive for ‘‘measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19” for the personal care industry was published in the Government Gazette on Friday 19 June and hence those who are able may reopen.

Most could face the initial 21-day lockdown, but with the extension it became very difficult even for well established businesses to survive.

The owner of Salon A1, hairdresser Evert van Urk from Kuils River, says he rented the premises for his salon in Brackenfell for 27 years. “It’s a very good business and my only source of income.”

He has one shampooist that’s been working for him for 11 years and says it became very difficult as the owner still wanted the full monthly rent during lockdown. Van Urk says he received emotional support from all his clients during this difficult time but he was too proud to accept any financial support from them. “I had to close my salon and start a brand-new salon from my home in Paul Kruger Street in Soneike. “With my new salon at home I am ready for all my clients as I have been for the past 27 years.”

Dewan du Plessis from “Divas only mobile salon” in Stellendale has only been in business for three years and says the lockdown was a big shock. He could afford the initial 21-day lockdown, but the extension was just too much, he says. “I couldn’t afford my rent or any other expenses.”

Du Plessis is a sole proprietor and does not have any staff. “I couldn’t benefit from any of the potential government funds or UIF, which just caused devastation in all spheres of my life.” He says the lack of income was the most challenging, but he also feared for his own and his family’s health “as there is no money for medications and other necessities”.

“The only solution was to sell vouchers at discounted prices to get some form of income to just provide the basics.”

Du Plessis says his clients are a force of goodwill who have kept him sane and calm. “They were amazing during this time and supported all my raffles and vouchers.”

He was very happy to hear Ramaphosa’s announcement. “I’m excited at the prospect of going back to work, but I have a lot of reservations as it pertains to the regulations.”

On Thursday before the publication of the directive Du Plessis was still uncertain about how the “new normal” for his business will look.

‘‘I really don’t know. I don’t have funds to pay upfront for all the safety protocols.”

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