Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Find answers to the FAQS below for:

England

Wales 

Scotland 

Northern Ireland 

    • Which businesses can open?
    • Which guidelines should be followed?
    • Can I work in the highest risk zone?
    • Which treatments or services can I provide?
    • Are there special rules for spas?
    • What PPE (personal protective equipment) must be used?
    • Do I have to offer an ‘appointment-only’ system?
    • Do I have to keep a record of clients who come in for appointments?
    • What about clients who are pregnant, unwell, shielding or vulnerable?

Please note:

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law. The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to two years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

 

England                                                         

The following businesses can open:

  • Hair and barber businesses.
  • Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas. 

Which guidelines should be followed? 

All close contact service providers are strongly advised to follow the government guidelines for working safely.  

Can I work in the highest risk zone? 

The highest risk zone is the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard. Services and treatments in the highest risk zone must not be provided, even if you are wearing a visor. This ban will be in force until at least 15 August 2020.

Which treatments or services can I provide? 

The following services and treatments can be provided: 

  • Services that relate to cutting or treating hair on the head.
  • Any treatments on the body, for example, manicures, pedicures, massages, leg or bikini waxing. 
  • Beard trims can be done if the barber avoids activity in the highest risk zone (the area directly in front of a client’s eyes, nose and mouth) for the majority of the time that it takes to complete the service. Services should be limited to simple beard trims, thinning or removing bulk or length which can be done using either clippers or scissors. This could be carried out from the side or by circling the client avoiding the high-risk zone. 
  • Spray tanning on the body is allowed, but not on the face. We recommend providing a retail self-tan product for the client to apply to their face. 
  • Ear piercing. 
  • Hopi ear candle. 
  • Indian head massage. 

The following are not allowed (even if wearing a visor) until 15 August 2020 at the earliest: 

  • Shaving of the face, including intricate detailing or outlining. 
  • Eyebrow treatments (threading,waxing etc), eyelash extensions and lash lifts. 
  • Spray tanning on the face. 
  • Face waxing or sugaring. 
  • Facial treatments. 
  • Advanced facial technical treatments (electrical or mechanical). 
  • Make-up application. 
  • Dermarolling. 
  • Dermaplaning. 
  • Microblading. 
  • Electrolysis on the face. 
  • Advanced beauty therapy and aesthetic treatments (this does not apply to medical settings). 

Are there special rules for spas? 

Spas should keep saunas and steam rooms closed until further notice. Spas may operate any of the following facilities outdoors and indoors providing social distancing is in place: gyms, jacuzzis, whirlpools, hydrotherapy and swimming pools. The government guidelines must be followed.   

What PPE (personal protective equipment) must be used? 

Stylists, therapists and barbers should wear a clear visor that covers the forehead, extends below the chin and wraps around the face.  

The visor is in addition to the PPE you normally wear when carrying out treatments, for example gloves or aprons.  

The current government guidelines say that you should strongly encourage clients to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces such as salons and barbershops where social distancing may be difficult and where they come into contact with people that they do not normally meet.

From 8 August 2020, members of the public must wear a face covering in nail bars, hair and beauty salons and barbershops. If necessary, the client can remove their face mask for a treatment to be carried out. (But note that treatments on the face are not allowed in England until at least 15 August 2020.) 

Members of the public do not need to wear a face covering if they have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to): 

  • Children under the age of 11 do not have to wear them.
  • Public Health England do not recommend face coverings for children under the age of three for health and safety reasons.
  • Not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability.
  • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause the person severe distress.
  • If the person is travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.
  • To avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others.
  • To avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and the person does not have a face covering with them.
  • To eat or drink if reasonably necessary.
  • To take medication.
  • If a police officer or other official asks the person to remove their face covering. 

There are also situations when people are permitted to remove a face covering, including:

  • If asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, the purpose of assessing health recommendations, such as a pharmacist, or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol.
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask others, either verbally or in writing, to remove a face covering to help with communication.

Find out more about face coverings on the government website.

The government guidelines also state that the most effective methods of preventing transmission of the virus are still social distancing and regular handwashing.  

Detailed information about the required PPE can be found in section six of the government guidelines. 

Please note: 

  • The PPE requirements set out in the guidelines cannot be used for carrying out advanced beauty practices and aesthetics treatments which require medical grade PPE.
  • The government’s PPE guidelines are for carrying out treatments on the body. Until further notice, treatments on the face cannot be carried out even when wearing a visor.  

Do I have to offer an ‘appointment-only’ system? 

The guidelines state that 'operating an appointment-only system' is one of the steps that 'will usually be needed'. The guidelines also refer to businesses maintaining 'scheduled' appointments.

This approach helps to control the number of people in your salon/barbershop at any one time and to maintain a strict cleaning schedule between clients. 

The NHBF recommends asking clients to book appointments on the phone, online or via text - and not to visit your premises to do so. Consider moving to a 'one in, one out' policy.

Ask your clients to attend on their own if possible.  

NHBF Members can download our client health check questionnaire 

Are appointment-only systems compulsory? 

The guidance itself is not legally binding. However, the requirements and suggestions within it would be taken into account by your local authority and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) when deciding if you have complied with health & safety law.  

Do I have to keep a record of clients who come in for appointments? 

Yes. Find out what information you will need to collect. 

You must keep a temporary record of your clients and visitors for 21 days and assist NHS ‘Test and Trace’ with requests for contact information if needed.  

When collecting and storing data you will need to comply with strict data protection regulations. Find out more.  

The government has made it clear that while at present the requirement to record client information as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme is not legally required, it will introduce legislation if people fail to comply. 

What about clients who are pregnant, unwell, shielding or vulnerable? 

Clients who feel unwell must stay at home. If they have made an appointment explain that you will not be imposing any financial penalties for cancellation and will rebook as soon as they are well and not self-isolating.  

The NHS lists the symptoms of coronavirus

NHBF Members can download our client health check questionnaire.  

Until 1 August 2020 clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to shield. 

If a client meets the definition of someone who is clinically vulnerable, you must use your professional judgement to decide whether the benefit of treatment is likely to outweigh any potential risk. If you decide that treatment is appropriate, the client must seek permission from their GP, midwife or consultant before having a treatment. 

People at moderate risk from coronavirus, for example those over 70 or who are pregnant, are able to go out but should stay home as much as possible. You may decide as part of your risk assessment to postpone appointments with these clients for their protection. 

Wales

The following businesses can open:

  • Hair and barber businesses.
  • Beauty salons. nail bars and tattoo shops. 

Which guidelines should be followed? 

The Welsh Government has published guidelines, a checklist and a restart risk assessment for hairdressing and barber businesses.  

Guidance, a checklist and restart risk assessment for beauty businesses are also available on the Welsh Government website.

Can I work in the highest risk zone? 

Hairdressers and barbers are currently only permitted to cut or treat hair on the head. Shaving and trimming of beards is not permitted as this brings the client and team member within the highest risk zone of each other (the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard). 

The guidelines were updated on 5 August 2020 and now say the following about high-risk close contact services on the face: 

Public Health Wales recommends that businesses do not provide these treatments unless they:

  • Can access the correct PPE. This could include a fluid-resistant surgical face mask (FRSM), suitable eye protection (goggles or full-face visor) and disposable gloves and apron.
  • Have sufficient training in putting the PPE on and taking if off (donning and doffing).
  • Have training on standard infection control precautions. 

Section 3.2 of the guidelines provides links to information about the use of PPE including how to put it on and take it off. 

Read the updated Welsh guidance.

These ‘high risk zone’ treatments include but are not limited to:

  • Face waxing, sugaring or threading services.
  • Facial treatments (manual).
  • Advanced facial technical (electrical or mechanical).
  • Eyelash treatments.
  • Make-up application.
  • Dermarolling and dermaplaning.
  • Microblading.
  • Electrical epilation on the face.
  • Eyebrow treatments.
  • Botulinum toxins and dermal fillers.
  • Lasers and IPL (laser, intense pulsed light and lighter emitting diode).
  • Chemical peels.
  • Microneedling.
  • Semi-permanent make-up (ie micro-pigmentation, micro-blading and scalpology).
  • Skin blemish removal (electrocautery and electrolysis).
  • Electrical epilation.
  • Acupuncture.

Which treatments or services can I provide? 

Services that relate to cutting or treating hair on the head can be provided. Shaving and trimming of beards is not permitted. 

The following are permitted treatments and services:

  • Manicure.
  • Pedicure.
  • Reflexology.
  • UV tanning.
  • Nail treatments and enhancement services.

The following level 3 treatments and services can also be provided safely, on the body only:

  • Body waxing, sugaring or threading services.
  • Advanced body technical (electrical or mechanical) therapy.
  • Massage and Ayurveda treatments.
  • Body scrubs, body brushes and body wraps.
  • Thermal therapy treatments.
  • Self-tanning.
  • Sports massage/therapy.

In addition the following can be provided if the therapist wears a visor and avoids prolonged periods of activity in the high-risk zone (the area directly in front of a client’s eyes, nose and mouth) for the majority of the time that it takes to complete them:

  • Indian Head Massage.
  • Thermal auricular.
  • Earlobe piercing

Are there special rules for spas? 

Spas are to remain closed in Wales until further notice. 

What PPE (personal protective equipment) must be used? 

Staff should wear a clear visor that covers the forehead, extends below the chin and wraps around the face.  

The visor is in addition to the PPE you normally wear when carrying out treatments, for example gloves or aprons.  

The government guidelines also state that the most effective methods of preventing transmission of the virus are still social distancing and regular handwashing.  

In Wales, wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. However:

  • The Welsh Government supports the right of the owners of hair and beauty businesses to decide whether they wish to ask their clients to wear face coverings while on their premises.
  • Three-layer face coverings are advised for clients where it is difficult to stay two metres apart.

Do I have to offer an ‘appointment-only’ system? 

In Wales, salons and barbershops must operate on a strict appointment-only basis.

Do I have to keep a record of clients who come in for appointments? 

The guidance for Wales states that you should ask clients for each client’s contact details on the day of their appointment to help with the government’s ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ service. 

Find more details about this on the Welsh Government’s website. 

What about clients who are pregnant, unwell, shielding or vulnerable? 

Clients who feel unwell must stay at home. If they have made an appointment explain that you will not be imposing any financial penalties for cancellation and will rebook as soon as they are well and not self-isolating.  

The NHS lists the symptoms of coronavirus

NHBF Members can download our client health check questionnaire.  

Until 16 August 2020 clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to shield. 

If a client meets the definition of someone who is clinically vulnerable, you must use your professional judgement to decide whether the benefit of treatment is likely to outweigh any potential risk. If you decide that treatment is appropriate, the client must seek permission from their GP, midwife or consultant before having a treatment. 

People at moderate risk from coronavirus, for example those over 70 or who are pregnant, are able to go out but should stay home as much as possible. You may decide as part of your risk assessment to postpone appointments with these clients for their protection. 

Scotland 

  • Hair and barber businesses can open.
  • Beauty businesses can open (but not mobile beauty businesses until further notice).

Which guidelines should be followed? 

The guidelines for Scotland can be found here. The Scottish government has also published an additional checklist for close-contact businesses in Scotland.  

Specific guidance for beauty businesses in Scotland has not yet been published. 

Can I work in the highest risk zone? 

The highest risk zone is the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard. 

The Scottish government’s additional checklist states: 

Specific consideration should be given to employees/operators working in the ‘breathing zone’ or ‘high risk zone’ of the customer. Minimise time being spent in the high-risk zone. If you are not able to minimise time in the high risk zone these treatments should not be offered. Implement additional measures or procedures to mitigate against the heightened risk. 

Which treatments or services can I provide? 

The Scottish government has not provided a list of treatments that can or cannot be provided but has said it is for individual businesses to interpret the guidance and assess the risks to ensure the protection of their clients and staff. 

The Scottish Government’s retail sector guidance states the following

Services offered in the ‘high risk zone’ 

The ‘high risk zone’ is defined as ‘the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard’. If treatments in the high risk zone cannot be carried out without the ability to be provided from the side of the face or behind the head and therefore require prolonged periods in the highest risk zone then they should not be offered in this phase of the Scottish Government’s Route Map 

Good practice 

Consideration should be given to what is a safe practice. Practitioners should assess their practice for all therapy treatments they deliver to ensure they only provide safe services. 

Practitioners should seek to avoid skin-to-skin contact with colleagues and client if it is not crucial for the treatment. Gloves provide a barrier where there is anticipated contact with blood or body fluids and should continue to be used for any treatments where this is a risk. However over-use of gloves leads to contamination of both the users gloves and the surrounding environment. Frequent hand decontamination is very important. Alcohol-based hand rub should be used regularly where hand washing cannot occur. 

Good practice involves the practitioner continually moving from side to side or from the back avoiding the high-risk zone, inactive periods, and keeping the activity time involved as short as possible. 

The NHBF stresses that if salons, barbershops or individual staff do not feel comfortable doing certain treatments, they absolutely do not have to offer them. 

Are there special rules for spas? 

Spas are to remain closed in Scotland until further notice. 

What PPE (personal protective equipment) must be used? 

In Scotland, face coverings are mandatory (must be worn) by clients and staff.

Staff should wear a visor in addition to a face covering. Visors are recommended (see below) but face masks are mandatory. Clients are also required to wear a face covering.  

Team members should wear a clear visor that covers the forehead, extends below the chin and wraps around the face.  

The visor is in addition to the PPE you normally wear when carrying out treatments, for example gloves or aprons.  

The government guidelines also state that the most effective methods of preventing transmission of the virus are still social distancing and regular handwashing.  

There are exemptions to the requirement to wear face coverings in Scotland, which include:

  • Children under five.
  • People with health conditions who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness or impairment or disability or without severe distress.
  • If people need to take medication or to eat or drink where reasonably necessary.
  • Temporary removal to comply with a request by a relevant person or another person acting in the course of their duties.
  • For clients with a hearing impairment and those who lip-read, and remove the face coverings, as necessary, to provide advice. information or assistance.
  • For age-related sales clients are asked to ensure that they remove face coverings in accordance with requests from staff.

Staff only

  • Those mainly based in non-customer facing areas, such as stock-rooms

  • In customer-facing areas where 2m physical distancing can be maintained or if there is a partition such as a perspex screen between clients and staff.
  • Outside opening hours.

Detailed information about the required PPE can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Do I have to offer an ‘appointment-only’ system? 

The England guidelines (which Scottish businesses must follow) state that 'operating an appointment-only system' is one of the steps that 'will usually be needed'. The guidelines also refer to businesses maintaining 'scheduled' appointments. 

The additional checklist for Scotland states that salons and barbershops should put  up a sign that ‘confirms bookings should be by appointment only’. The checklist also says that the timings of appointments should be staggered to minimise overlaps and unnecessary waiting. 

Do I have to keep a record of clients who come in for appointments? 

Salons and barbershops are being asked to gather ‘minimal contact details’ from clients to support the Scotland’s ‘Test and Protect’ service. 

This requirement is explained in more detail on the Scottish Government’s website

Find out more about Test and Protect. 

What about clients who are pregnant, unwell, shielding or vulnerable? 

Clients who feel unwell must stay at home. If they have made an appointment explain that you will not be imposing any financial penalties for cancellation and will rebook as soon as they are well and not self-isolating.  

The NHS lists the symptoms of coronavirus

NHBF Members can download our client health check questionnaire.  

Until 1 August 2020 clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to shield. 

If a client meets the definition of someone who is clinically vulnerable, you must use your professional judgement to decide whether the benefit of treatment is likely to outweigh any potential risk. If you decide that treatment is appropriate, the client must seek permission from their GP, midwife or consultant before having a treatment. 

People at moderate risk from coronavirus, for example those over 70 or who are pregnant, are able to go out but should stay home as much as possible. You may decide as part of your risk assessment to postpone appointments with these clients for their protection.

Northern Ireland

Hair, beauty and barber businesses can open.  

Which guidelines should be followed? 

Northern Ireland must use the England government guidelines. 

Can I work in the highest risk zone? 

Although businesses in Northern Ireland are expected to follow the England government guidelines, salons and barbershops in Northern Ireland are currently allowed to provide services and treatments in the highest risk zone (the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard). 

Which treatments or services can I provide? 

All treatments can take place in Northern Ireland but ultimately, each individual business is best placed to review their own circumstances, assess the risks to their employees and clients, and adapt as necessary to ensure they continue to fulfil their legal duties under existing health and safety law.

Are there special rules for spas? 

We are waiting for further clarification from the Northern Ireland Executive. 

What PPE (personal protective equipment) must be used? 

Stylists, therapists and barbers should wear a clear visor that covers the forehead, extends below the chin and wraps around the face.  

The visor is in addition to the PPE you normally wear when carrying out treatments, for example gloves or aprons.  

Members of the public in Northern Ireland must wear face coverings in shops and shopping centres. This rule came into force on 10 August 2020 and includes ‘any indoor place where goods or services are available to buy or rent’.

If your salon or barbershop operates an appointment-only system to ensure social distancing you are exempt from requiring clients to wear a face covering.  

However, if you allow, for example, walk-in appointments, then the client must wear a face covering. 

If your business is exempt from requiring face coverings, you may still request clients to wear a face covering if you wish. 

Our current advice from the Northern Ireland Executive is that it would be reasonable for clients to remove face coverings if necessary to carry out treatments. 

The guidance also lists exemptions to the requirement to wear face coverings:

You don’t have to wear a face covering:

  • If you are under the age of 13.
  • If you are a member of staff or employee of the shop or shopping centre.
  • Temporarily, if a member of staff or employee or a police officer asks you to remove it to check your identity.
  • If you have a reasonable excuse not to.

An employee of a shop or shopping centre can tell a member of the public to wear a face covering, and can tell someone to leave the shop or shopping centre if they refuse to wear one and do not have a reasonable excuse not to.

Some circumstances make it difficult for some people to wear face coverings.  In these circumstances people may have a 'reasonable excuse' not to wear a face covering in a shop or shopping centre.

These reasonable excuses include:

  • If you need to seek medical assistance or to provide care to someone who needs assistance, such as a vulnerable person or in an emergency.
  • If you need to avoid injury, illness or escape from harm.Iif you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering.
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress.
  • If you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.Iif you need to remove it to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • If you need to eat, drink, or take medication.
  • If you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official.

There is no need to get a letter from a doctor or the government to show that you do not need to wear a face covering. 

The government guidelines also state that the most effective methods of preventing transmission of the virus are still social distancing and regular handwashing.  

Detailed information about the required PPE can be found in section six of the government guidelines. 

Do I have to offer an ‘appointment-only’ system? 

The guidelines state that 'operating an appointment-only system' is one of the steps that 'will usually be needed'. The guidelines also refer to businesses maintaining 'scheduled' appointments. 

This approach helps to control the number of people in your salon/barbershop at any one time and to maintain a strict cleaning schedule between clients. 

The NHBF recommends asking clients to book appointments on the phone, online or via text - and not to visit your premises to do so. Consider moving to a 'one in, one out' policy.

Ask your clients to attend on their own if possible.  

NHBF Members can download our client health check questionnaire 

Are appointment-only systems compulsory? 

The guidance itself is not legally binding. However, the requirements and suggestions within it would be taken into account by your local authority and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) when deciding if you have complied with health & safety law.  

Do I have to keep a record of clients who come in for appointments? 

Contact tracing is being carried out in Northern Ireland. You can find out more on the Public Health Agency website. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your clients and visitors for 21 days in a way that is manageable for your business.

What about clients who are pregnant, unwell, shielding or vulnerable? 

Clients who feel unwell must stay at home. If they have made an appointment explain that you will not be imposing any financial penalties for cancellation and will rebook as soon as they are well and not self-isolating.  

The NHS lists the symptoms of coronavirus

NHBF Members can download our client health check questionnaire.  

Until 1 August 2020 clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to shield. 

If a client meets the definition of someone who is clinically vulnerable, you must use your professional judgement to decide whether the benefit of treatment is likely to outweigh any potential risk. If you decide that treatment is appropriate, the client must seek permission from their GP, midwife or consultant before having a treatment. 

People at moderate risk from coronavirus, for example those over 70 or who are pregnant, are able to go out but should stay home as much as possible. You may decide as part of your risk assessment to postpone appointments with these clients for their protection. 

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