These FAQs are for beauty businesses in England only. 

The government guidelines for close contact services in England can be found here.

22 September 2020: guidelines now a legal requirement

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


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.


Can beauty businesses in England reopen? 


England is now in a national lockdown. This means that all personal care services (including mobile) must close. Personal care services include hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, and body and skin piercing services. 

The restrictions are expected to last until at least mid-February. Find out more on the government website.

What PPE (personal protective equipment) will be required for staff and clients? 

These 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. To 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 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,  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, 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 2020, goggles are now allowed 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.  

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. See more on this below.
  • 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. 

Can beauty professionals offer the full range of services? 

All hair and beauty businesses in England must close from Thursday, 5 November 2020 until Wednesday, 2 December. 

  • The last day your business can open is 4 November 2020.
  • Subject to restrictions being lifted, you can reopen your business on Thursday, 3 December 2020.

These rules apply to hair salons, barbershops, beauty salons, spas, massage parlours, non-medical acupuncture, tanning salons and mobile businesses. 

Good practice for all treatments when allowed to open

During a treatment, the practitioner should continually move from side to side or work from the back avoiding the highest risk zone. Avoid inactive periods and keep the activity time involved as short as possible.

Can I treat a client who is classed as clinically vulnerable?

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.

It's important to follow the general advice on social distancing.

Do I need to wear gloves for massages and other body treatments?

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. 

Has a maximum length of time been set for appointments?

No maximum length of time has been officially set. We are currently seeking clarification in this point. Practitioners can decide on a case-by-case basis if a shorter treatment can be offered that would provide the same therapeutic outcome.

However - the NHBF would not recommend any total appointment time lasting for more than one hour when you first reopen.

What about restrictions to spas? 

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

What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?  

Find more information about reopening guidelines for hair, beauty and barbering businesses across the four nations.

What is the NHBF doing? 

The NHBF continues to campaign at the highest government levels on behalf of the hair, beauty and barbering industries. 

Where can I find more information? 

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