Covid's impact: ‘The amount of people I’ve seen with their hair done...It’s ridiculous’

Hairdresser says growth of black market could hamper sector’s recovery from Covid-19

Wayne Lloyd is pictured in his salon in Bandon, Co Cork on Tuesday. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision.

Wayne Lloyd is pictured in his salon in Bandon, Co Cork on Tuesday. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision.

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Like many people’s hairstyles and dye jobs, Co Cork-based hairdresser Wayne Lloyd believes the shadow economy in his profession has grown out of control in recent months.

Lloyd, who owns salons in Bandon and Ballydehob, says you would not think there has been an enforced closure of personal services since Covid-19 cases spiked in late December when you walk down the street or look on social media.

“It’s ridiculous. The amount of people I’ve seen with their hair done, the blatant advertisements on Facebook, we all know about it,” he says.

“We are fearful of what it has done to our industry. Black market hairdressers have almost become the heroes of lockdown.”

Lloyd says a minority have bent the rules and provided services over the last four months, with some arguing they have had to in order to make ends meet. However, he says they are breaking the law and that the Government and Revenue should intervene to stop this shadow economy.

“Eventually, everybody’s tax rate will go up if people keep spending money on the shadow economy and not paying tax on it. Revenue will have to get that money somehow,” he says.

“They are not insured, they are potentially spreading the virus. You can’t guarantee what the safety measures are if you’re going around to somebody’s house.”

Fixed reopening date

Amid suggestions that personal services could reopen next month, Lloyd says a fixed date for the resumption of business would be helpful. The Irish Hairdressing Council, of which he is president, has written to the Government asking for advance notice of same so that salons can prepare.

“During one of the lockdowns we got 48 hours’ notice of reopening. It was chaos,” he says. “Our clients think we already have opening dates, we are getting a barrage of emails.”

Lloyd added that staff also have to be mentally prepared to return to work after more than 120 days of closure.

“Even though they are dying to get back to work, you get into a different mental state during lockdown,” he says. “People are used to being at home, they almost have a fear of going back out there.”

Lloyd feels that his clients will return when things open up as “it’s not just about the hairdressing, it’s about the service”. However, he believes reopening too quickly would come with risks.

“Other countries have new strains and and are locking back down. If we open up and close back down again, we will lose more salons,” he says.

“We’ve already lost small salons in villages and towns, and that’s the heart of Ireland. Your high-street salon in a little town is the hub of the community . A lot of people have lost jobs.”

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