“We look forward to bringing our customers back and making them feel good again”

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It is hoped that the Northern Ireland executive will give more clarity on the dates when certain lockdown measures can be facilitated

The next coronavirus review will take place on Thursday, April 15, and recent statements from the Prime Minister suggest close contact services may be given a reopening date

It is understood that the Minister of the Economy Diane Dodds presented documents regarding the lifting of restrictions on proximity services, hairdressers, beauticians and for non-essential retail

Speaking to some members of the beauty industry, Belfast Live learned how salons and barbers work best to keep their spaces safe – then they were closed without notice

Frankie Campbell, owner of The Cutting Edge Barber Shop on Ormeau Road, said as he watched the coronavirus spread across Europe he knew it was a serious situation

He told Belfast Live: “If you had told me the store doors would have been closed a year later, I wouldn’t have believed you. We actually followed south [of Ireland] and closed a week earlier than the executive expected I thought they [NI Executive] were too slow to act

“When reopening we had an appointment only system limiting the number of customers allowed in the store at any time We opened an extra day but reduced staff for each day to reduce working time with each other

“We have added Covid signage on walls and floors, hand sanitizers, separation screens at checkout, face masks at all times before it is mandatory, equipment disinfection , workspace, chairs and disposable gowns after each client

“We use common sense to keep our staff and customers safe”

Frankie said the “lack of clear information” for the reopening was a problem for the industry

“It has caused us a lot of stress, especially the last minute decisions by the executive to allow us to reopen has caused so much confusion for staff and customers,” added Frankie

“Whenever we are forced to close upon reopening, we work twice as hard to try to accommodate and rebuild our clientele

“It has not been easy for our staff, but they have done the hair salon proud – absolutely amazing and so professional in their work and attitude and I know they are so keen to get back to a kind of normality

“This is naturally extremely difficult work for the executive and there is a process we must follow to ensure the safety of as many people as possible and reduce the number of fatalities. However, the undated tier system is very frustrating, hopefully with an announcement on April 15th we get better guidance and a set date to get back to work

“All credit goes to Robin Swann, the only MP to take a stand on the health front and do what’s best for Northern Ireland The indecision of the two main parties in s ‘to sit down and negotiate a clear path out of the lockdown is a shame “

“I would like to say a huge thank you for the support we have received from all of our customers since our opening on the route d’Ormeau It’s unmatched We wouldn’t be here without you We hope everyone is doing well and we look forward to seeing you all again “

Speaking to Belfast Live, Belfast city center lounge owner Claire-Louise Bloomfield said she was also frustrated with the lack of dates

She said: “We didn’t think 12 months later we would still be closed Definitely not I was angry with the first lockdown because we were given a week’s notice We had 250 in demand, on our waiting lists Trying to facilitate all these people that week was really hard to do

“If you imagine rebound loans, how can a business sit down and figure out what it needs, if it doesn’t know how long it will be closed? For me there could have been a lot more clarity

“There is a lack of leadership in the executive They can’t even agree on simple things like this I feel the executive knew in January that this wouldn’t be April or May until we open, so why not go out and say that? Tell us it won’t be for a few months and we can work with that

“We’ve been shut down, in their entirety, guts for over ten months We take things week after week The four directors meet once a week in case the executive announces something at short notice

“It’s just outrageous It’s pressure that isn’t needed I would go get my nails or my eyebrows done You sit down and relax I have three kids and it’s time to me It’s not completely gone for everyone

“An important factor too, a lot of women come to us to cover up their grays They’ve probably never seen their gray hair before They just keep covering it up This alone, looking in the mirror and disliking what you can see it can be depressing “

Claire-Louise congratulated the MACC Hair team for their support and said that when they opened before there was a huge demand, the staff made it easy

But she says it’s one of her concerns, that the staff have been out of work for so long

“Now we’re going to ask them to come back to work, after being home for so long, and give it 100%

“It’s like asking someone who’s led their whole life, trains five days a week and stops suddenly Then they are asked to go run a marathon

“Every time we close and reopen it’s a big challenge To get these guys to run a marathon when they haven’t even sprinted

“We know when our doors open, our customers will be there Without them we have no business End of Shutdown We can’t wait to bring them back and give them that good feeling they have missed These good relations are at the heart of our activity “

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, the Prime Minister said she hoped the executive will be able to give dates for the reopening of outreach services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauticians, and for non-essential retail

Ms Foster added: “My colleague Diane Dodds has put papers on lifting restrictions on close contact services, hairdressers, beauticians and for non-essential trade, which is of course also very important

“I hope we will be able to give dates related to these issues when we next visit the executive to consider these issues. I think what you will see at the end of the next [meeting ] of the executive, these are deadlines “

The executive is due to meet on April 15 to discuss the road map for Northern Ireland outside the lockdown

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News from around the world – EN – Outreach services eagerly await NI Executive reopening dates

Source: https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/northern-ireland-lockdown-restrictions-close-20341800