Canberra barbershop owner Khushwant Dhanoa, of Truefitt and Hill in Civic, found themselves at the centre of the COVID 19 business response this week as 30-minute restrictions were initially introduced mid-week for barbers and hairdressers.
It’s been a confusing time for many as essential and non-essential businesses come to terms with how they should respond to the crisis and government regulations. There have also been several changes to social distancing rules for some businesses.
In relation to hairdressers and barbers, the Federal Government initially said they would need to limit visits to 30 minutes. However, in a statement released on Thursday (26 March), the Prime Minister’s office has removed this restriction.
“Following the receipt of feedback on the practical implementation of measures announced regarding barbers and hairdressers, it was agreed by Premiers and Chief Ministers at National Cabinet that the instruction regarding 30 minutes per patron will be lifted,” the PM’s office said in a statement.
The social distancing recommendations remain, as does the advice that personal contact be minimised “wherever possible”.
Truefitt and Hill have 11 staff employed at the shop and said business is still good despite the government’s social distancing regulations. In fact, Mr Danoa says they have implemented distancing measures for some time.
“The wearing of face masks by our barbers during a haircut was recently implemented. Whilst we understand that it is not strictly a requirement, the peace of mind of our customers is of utmost importance,” Mr Dhanoa said.
“Like every other place, people are just uncertain about where things are going with the virus. Things are changing so rapidly that it is literally day by day.
“People are still coming in because maybe they think it will be the last haircut they can get for a while.”
Mr Dhanoa said while barbershops and hairdressers are a hub of conversation, there is only one topic on the minds of customers as they face the facts of social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We still do the usual thing of asking our customers how their day is going, but the topic of conversation pretty much ties back to the COVID-19 issue. People talk about sport or work but it still comes back to the virus,” he said.
Mr Dhanoa said they are cleaning and disinfecting barber stations between customers, including the chair and wash areas, and taking the temperature of all people who enter the store to ensure they do not have a fever.
People seeking further information on symptoms are being told to avoid creating additional stress on the public health system by phoning their GP or health clinic before presenting in person.
New testing criteria now mean that people who work in prisons, aged care, boarding schools, military bases that have live-in accommodation and remote communities are now eligible for testing if they show signs of a fever or acute respiratory infection.
Medical workers and people who have travelled overseas, and people who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, are still eligible for testing.
Testing will not be undertaken for people with symptoms unless they have unexplained pneumonia.
The Federal Government’s Health website also has its COVID-19 symptom checker with information to see if you need to seek medical help or get tested.
ACT Health also has information about testing requirements and procedures on its website.