Reopening guidelines for the hair, beauty and barbering industries (including mobile and freelance) are now available. 

22 September 2020: guidelines now a legal requirement

On 22 September 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the government guidelines for salons and barbershops in England are now a legal requirement. Businesses that don’t comply will be fined £10,000 and could be closed.

Update: 28 September 2020 

In England, individuals are required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Those breaking the rules will be fined up to a maximum of £10,000 for repeat offenders. 

In addition, it is now an offence for an employer to knowingly permit a worker (including an agency worker) to attend any place other than where the individual is self-isolating. This includes individuals who are required to self-isolate because they live with someone who has tested positive.

This means that if you know your employee has tested positive (or lives with someone who has tested positive), it is now your responsibility to stop the worker from working (unless they can work from home). Any employer who fails to do so will face a fine, starting at £1,000.

There is also an obligation on the worker to tell their employer that they are self-isolating.


Download our free guide which is based on the government guidelines for England.

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more.

Reporting concerns: if you have concerns or wish to report a business that is failing to implement the recommended safety standards for limiting the risk of COVID-19, there is an HSE helpline (0300 003 1647) and an online form which can be used to report non-compliance.

Salons and barbershops can also be reported to their local authority. You can find the relevant local council here.


Which businesses can now reopen in England? 

Hairdressers and barbers are now allowed to open and are strongly advised to follow the government guidelines for working safely

Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas across England are now allowed to open. All close contact service providers are strongly advised to follow the government guidelines for working safely

Spas should keep saunas and steam rooms closed until further notice.  

Read our FAQs for beauty businesses in England. 

What about the other three nations? 

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more.

What precautions do I need to take? 

The government guidelines say that businesses must complete a COVID-19 risk assessment to help ensure the safety of staff and clients. 

Staff and clients should wear the recommended PPE (see below). Staff should maintain regular handwashing and cleaning of their equipment, and avoid prolonged periods in the ‘highest-risk zone’ (the area directly in front of a client’s eyes, nose and mouth). 

NHBF Members can download a wide range of free coronavirus-related resources including risk assessments

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more.

What do the guidelines say about PPE (personal protective equipment) for staff and clients?  

Your risk assessment must include what PPE you will use based on the treatments/services you provide and any other relevant factors. 

Remember: handwashing, social distancing, regular cleaning/sanitising and hygiene measures remain among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

PPE requirements have now been updated by the government: 

  • Stylists, therapists and barbers should wear a clear visor or goggles and a Type II face mask. Goggles may be used as an alternative to a clear visor, when worn with a Type II face mask. Goggles provide eye protection to the wearer. o be worn in place of a clear visor, goggles must be close fitting with no obvious openings or vents that would otherwise allow droplets to enter the eyes. Reusable eye protection should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Type II face masks are medical face masks made up of a protective three-ply construction. This PPE must be worn for all services and treatments in salons and barbershops, not just those carried out in the highest-risk zone.
  • The Type II face mask does not need to be changed between clients but must be changed if it is removed to eat or drink, or becomes moist, damaged or difficult to breathe through.
  • From 8 August, face coverings were made mandatory for clients visiting nail, beauty, and hair salons; barbers; massage parlours; tattoo and piercing parlours. Face coverings should not be removed unless essential for a particular treatment – for example, on the face area covered by the mask.
  • All staff in salons and barbershops must wear face coverings. Individuals who don’t comply can be fined £200. The requirement for staff to wear face coverings applies when they are not providing a treatment or service. When providing a treatment or service,  stylists, barbers and therapists must wear a clear visor or goggles and a Type II face mask. This PPE must be worn for all services and treatments in salons and barbershops, not just those carried out in the highest-risk zone.
  • If you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service because you have been in contact with an infected person, you will still have to self-isolate even if you were wearing a Type II face mask and a visor.

Why have the guidelines changed?  

Visors can protect the wearer from exposure to large droplets and also protect the wearer from exposure through the eyes.  

However, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) now says that the current evidence suggests:  

  • Visors are unlikely to protect the wearer against ‘aerosol’ transmission. These are tiny particles that can remain in the air and be breathed in.
  • Visor wearers can still pass on the virus to others via large droplets or tiny particles in the air

As a result, the government’s guidelines were strengthened to include wearing a Type II face mask in addition to a visor. (Since 11 September, goggles can be worn instead of a visor, see above.) The aim is to further protect both the wearer and others.  


The importance of good ventilation is also emphasised, particularly where several people are indoors in close proximity for periods of 30 minutes or more. Salons and barbershops should plan ahead to ensure they can provide good ventilation in the winter months while still maintaining a comfortable temperature for team members and clients.


Read the government’s updated guidance for close contact services. The guidance explains in detail the new requirements for England including how to put on a Type II face mask and use it safely.  

NHBF Members can login to read further Q&As about face masks in England, including: 

Does my receptionist have to wear a Type II face mask as well as a visor?

Are there any exemptions to stylists, barbers or beauty therapists wearing a Type II face mask as well as a visor?

What action should I take regarding an employee who can’t wear a face mask for a medical reason?

What if a client is exempt from wearing a face covering?  Can I refuse to serve them?

Not yet a Member? Join us for less than 80p a day to get a wide range of benefits including access to our friendly membership team, free 24/7 legal advice, in-depth business guides and fact sheets, and valuable discounts on business essentials including insurance.


This does not apply to areas in local lockdown. Please note: rules vary across the country when lockdowns are imposed. If you have specific questions about your particular area, please contact your local authority. You can find your local authority on the government website. You can also email the Department of Health and Social Care with any queries about local lockdowns: 

Practitioners should seek to avoid skin to skin contact with colleagues and clients if it is not crucial for the treatment and to wear gloves where possible. If this is not possible (to perform a massage, for example with gloves on), then practitioners need to include this within their task specific treatment risk assessment and ensure mitigating control measures are in place.  

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.  

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more. 

What is the difference between face masks and face coverings?  

face covering can be very simple – even homemade – and can be worn to help protect others you come into contact with. It covers your mouth and nose.  

Face masks, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers, are more sophisticated than simple face coverings. Type II face masks are medical face masks made up of a protective 3-ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the client or working surfaces.

What about outbreaks in the workplace?

As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure you have an up-to-date plan in case there is an outbreak of coronavirus in your salon or barbershop.

This plan should name the person who would be responsible for contacting your local health protection team where necessary.

If there is more than one case of coronavirus associated with your salon or barbershop, you should contact your local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. You can find your local health protection team by entering your post code on this page of the government's website.

If the local  health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to record details of staff who have symptoms and assist with identifying contacts. Therefore, you must ensure all your employment records are up to date.

You will be helped to put in place control measures, communicate with your staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

Which treatments and services are allowed? 

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more.

Do I have to offer an appointment-only system?

 The government 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

Remember to maintain social distancing in your salon/barbershop at all times. 

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. 

Track and trace information

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more

Can I use a hairdryer? 

There are no restrictions on the use of hairdryers.  

What about salon/barbershop employees who work in care homes, brides’ homes or other venues as part of their employment? 

The government guidelines apply to stylists and therapists going into people’s homes, care homes or other venues. 

They will be required to follow the guidelines and will also need to follow the government’s additional guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes. 

Some reopening rules and guidelines for salons and barbershops vary across the four nations. Read our FAQs to find out more.

Can more than one member of staff work on the same client at the same time? 

Yes, if your risk assessment shows that you an manage this safely. A consistent pairing system may be a workable solution; this is where two people work exclusively together if there is a need to work in close proximity. For example, this could include a stylist and an apprentice. 

Is there a time limit for how long a stylist or barber can spend with a client? 

The government has not set a time limit on treatments or services but has stressed that appointment times should be kept to a minimum and that businesses should consider not offering longer treatments due to the increased potential exposure. 

To help with this, pre-appointment consultations could be carried out online or on the phone. 

Can you provide a service to more than one client at a time, for example, cutting one client’s hair while another’s colour treatment is developing? 


However, businesses should pay particular attention to section 2.1 of the guidance which is about ‘keeping clients and visitors safe’. This covers measures such as keeping a safe distance between clients and maintaining robust hygiene and safety standards including regular handwashing between clients and cleaning or replacing PPE to avoid any risk of cross contamination.  

Your risk assessment must cover how you will manage risk if you plan to provide services to more than one client at a time.

What if appointments overrun? 

Try to avoid this. Leave more time between appointments for cleaning and sanitising ready for your next client. 

Consider carrying out consultations online or over the phone before the appointment to reduce the amount of time the client has to spend in your salon or barbershop.

If overrunning becomes unavoidable, contact your next client with as much notice as possible to ask them to arrive a little later. This will prevent them having to wait in your salon/barbershop which could increase the risk to them, your other clients and your staff. 

What about children’s haircuts? 

Children can have appointments for haircuts. However, salons and barbershops are expected to request that clients keep children under control and make sure they follow social distancing rules to reduce any risk of spreading the virus. 

Do I have to wash clients’ hair before every service? 

You do not need to do any extra hair washing – only what you would normally do as part of the service being provided. You can do dry cuts. 

Clients are not required to wash their hair before arriving for their appointment. 

Should I ask clients to wash their hair at home before appointments? 

The government guidelines do not say this is required. 

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

The law in England says that from 18 September 2020 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.  Find out more about this legal requirement on the government website. 

You must register for an official NHS QR code and display the official NHS QR poster from 24 September 2020.

The NHS COVID-19 app has a feature that allows users to quickly and easily ‘check in’ to your venue by scanning the code. The information stays on the user’s phone. In England, you do not have to ask people who choose to ‘check in’ using the official NHS QR code to provide their contact details. If there is an outbreak associated with a venue, a message will be sent to the relevant app users with the necessary public health advice. Find out more about this on the government website.

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

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.

Salons and barbershops in Scotland 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

Northern Ireland operates a contact tracing programme. Salons and barbershops should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of clients and visitors 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 and not be given appointments in your salon/barbershop. 

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. 

Can we physically assist clients who are elderly or have mobility issues? 

Yes, for example, you can link arms with a client to help them out of a chair. But the contact must only be for a short time and the person helping must be wearing suitable PPE (personal protective equipment). For example, you could keep your full-face visor on while helping your client. The guidelines provide detailed information about PPE requirements.  

How many people are allowed in the salon/barbershop at the same time?

There is no specific limit to the number of people you can have in your salon or barbershop. 

However, you must maintain ‘one metre plus’ social distancing and clients should arrive at the time of their appointment to reduce waiting. This will affect the number of people you can have in your salon or barbershop at any one time. 

Deciding how many people it will be safe to have in your salon or barbershop at any one time will be an important part of your risk assessment. You will need to take account of the amount of space you have including waiting areas and any 'pinch points' where space is narrow or limited.

 Is talking between clients and staff banned? 

No. The guidance simply recommends back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) wherever possible to keep the amount of time spent in a client’s ‘high-risk zone’ (the area directly in front of a client’s eyes, nose and mouth) to a minimum. 

Shouting and raised voices

The guidelines state that steps should be taken so that people do not need to shout or raise their voices to communicate. This includes not playing loud music or other loud broadcasts that might make normal conversation difficult. This is because there may be a risk of increased transmission of the virus when people shout or raise their voice. 

Do I have to close my toilets to clients? 

No. You must put in place a robust cleaning schedule and consider how you can best manage the route to and from the toilet to prevent clients getting too close to each other on their way to and from the toilet. 

Deciding how you will manage this will be an important part of your risk assessment.

Can I offer food and drink to clients and are clients allowed to bring food and drink into my salon/barbershop? 

No food or drinks (whether provided by them or you) should be consumed in salons or barbershops by clients other than water in disposable cups or bottles. 

Can I use fans or air conditioning in my salon or barbershop? 

Fans can be used in your salon or barbershop. 

Ensure good ventilation in your salon or barbershop. Fans together with open windows is a good option. (Fans used with shut windows could conceivably spread the virus in a closed environment, though the risk is low.)

Find more information on the HSE site.

The government guidelines state that most air conditioning systems will not need adjustment. However, where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, you must get advice from an expert. 

What changes do I need to make to the layout of my salon/barbershop? 

You may need to modify the layout of your premises in order to maintain social distancing (two metres, or one metre plus with additional precautions where two metres is not possible). Deciding what changes to make will be a key part of your risk assessment.

This could include:

  • Installing barriers or screens at workstations, wash stations and in reception areas.
  • Ensuring there is sufficient spacing between client chairs by, for example, using alternate chairs only.
  • Introducing one-way flow at entrances, exits and stairways.
  • Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser) at entrances and exits.
  • Providing floor markings and signage to remind both workers and clients to maintain social distancing. 

It's also a good idea to declutter and make more space by removing items such as equipment and furniture that you don't need.

More suggestions can be found in section 4.3 (p.22) of the guidance.

What does the change in the two-metre rule mean for my business? 

You should keep two metres away from people as a precaution or one metre plus where you can lessen the risk by taking other precautions, for example:

  • Further handwashing and surface cleaning.
  • Keeping the activity as short as possible.
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people.

You will need to consider what extra precautions you need to take as part of your risk assessment.

Find the updated guidance and further details on reducing risk here. 

Can I run training sessions with my staff before reopening? 

Yes. You can prepare for reopening, train staff and take deliveries in your salon or barbershop. 

However, you must not:

  • Carry out training on live models or colleagues before the reopening date.
  • Do allergy alert tests on clients before the official reopening date. 

Remember that staff must be paid their full wages for the time they spend training.

However, you must not be open to the public or provide services other than click and collect retail sales until the government says you are allowed to open. 

Can we do colleagues' hair before reopening?

Any services that involve close proximity to another person are not allowed until 4 July 2020. The NHBF therefore recommends that you do not provide hair services to your colleagues until the official reopening day. 

Is the government guidance optional? 

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. Your local authority may be able to offer further help and support. Find your local authority.

The government has also 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. 

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.


Where can I find more information? 

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