Coronavirus Business Support

Opening hairdressers and barbers safely

Updated: 14th August 2020

In the phased reopening of businesses, hairdressers and barbers were allowed to reopen from 4th July 2020. There have been various changes to guidance since then, the following information has been changed in line with amendments as of 13th August and we urge all businesses to reread all of the guidance to ensure they are adhering to the most up to date requirements. The most significant changes are as follows, with more information on each in the relevant sections below:

  1. All services, including those in the highest risk zone (close contact, including treatments to the face), can restart from 15 August 2020.
  2. Practitioners must now wear visors AND type 2 face masks.
  3. Clients must wear face coverings.
  4. Barriers are required between clients IF two meters distance cannot be observed between clients.

The government has amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance to make clear that people providing close contact services in the hair sector can reopen safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. This guidance provides important public health information to ensure that people delivering services can do so safely by ensuring as many people as possible comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable).

This guidance does not replace any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. When considering how to apply this guidance, you should take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

Please note: Where a premises delivers a mix of services such as hairdressing and beauty treatments, nails etc, there is separate guidance for close contact services including the beauty sector.

Advice to industry

All businesses should follow the government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus and safer working guidance.

As well as government guidance, we encourage all professionals to speak to their representative bodies and familiarise themselves with guidance prepared for their specific sectors.

It is important that all businesses work together to ensure we stay alert and safe to minimise the spread of infection and we expect all sectors to consider how they can operate in a way which minimise the need for face to face contact.

Test and Tracing

The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by securely keeping a temporary record of your clients and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.

If you already have a system for taking bookings, this could be used as a record of your clients, however please note the following:

  • Only collect the minimum amount of information necessary i.e. a person's full name, contact phone number or email address and the date and times of their visit.
  • Tell customers what data you are collecting and why, as a requirement of data protection law is to provide a privacy notice which tells people what information about them you are collecting, why you are collecting it and what will happen to it. This can be done by a notice on your website or displayed at the entrance to your premises.

"Suggested wording could be:

This information is being collected to assist the NHS Test and Trace service for tracing close recent contacts of anyone testing positive for coronavirus. It will be given to NHS Test and Trace on request in the event that it is required for contact tracing purposes. We will not use it for any other purpose, and will destroy it after eight weeks.

It will be kept here at [name of premises]. You have a right to access and correct any information we hold about you. For any questions about this notice please contact [email address/phone number]"

  • Keep all client information securely and make sure that the record, wherever it is maintained, is only accessible by members of staff who need access to it. As a minimum, it should be locked away when not in use and stored on a password-protected (and ideally encrypted) device.

Ensure that any client information is securely destroyed and disposed of, as if not done correctly this may amount to a data breach.

Risk assessment

To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment Checklist available for download here  - just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. Please make every effort to ensure the risk assessment is completed and regularly updated in line with any changes.

  • Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
  • Clearly, when providing close contact services, it often may not be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m apart with risk mitigation, is acceptable). As a result, personal protective equipment in the form of a visor will be required to mitigate the risk.

Further information is available at

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Hairdressers and barbers tend to work in close proximity to their clients, usually for extended periods of time, which creates challenges when trying to maintain social distancing. An extended period of time refers to the majority of the working day, irrespective of the number of clients served during the day. The person providing a service (such as hairdressers/barbers), must therefore wear further protection.

Originally, government guidance was to wear a visor, however as of 13th August 2020, visors AND Type II masks must be worn (not cloth face coverings).

Visors should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face and must fit the user properly to provide a barrier between the practitioner and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking, in addition to the type II mask.

Below is some information on type II face masks as stipulated on the National Hair and Beauty Federation website available here :

Medical face masks are classified into two types: Type I and Type II according to their Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE). The BFE determines the amount of infective agent retained by the facemask and therefore directly relates to the amount of bacteria released through the mask and into the environment.

Type II masks are further divided according to their Splash Resistance Pressure which determines the mask’s resistance level to potentially contaminated fluid splashes.

A Type IIR mask is splash resistant, the letter ‘R’ signifies splash resistance.

A Type II mask is not splash resistant.

Splash resistance is required in clinical settings to protect the wearer against splashes of blood or bodily fluids.

Disposable and re-usable visors are available to purchase, however re-usable visors must be cleaned and sanitised regularly using normal cleaning products.

Another amendment to the guidance as of 13th August 2020 is that Clients must now wear masks when inside all hairdressing and barber salons. These can be removed if work around the face and ear are needed, however they must be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

The most effective methods of preventing the transmission of COVID-19 are still social distancing and regular handwashing. These steps must still be followed as much as possible, even when practitioners are wearing protective equipment. We and the Government are advising extra stringent hand washing and stepping up/maintaining strict hygiene practices.

Keeping clients and visitors safe

The updated guidance as of 13th August requires installation of screens between clients IF two meters cannot be observed between clients. This will depend on the size of the premises and whether there is enough space to distance chairs 2 meters apart or not.

A further important update is that clients MUST use hand sanitiser or use handwashing facilities as soon as they enter the premises or before treatment.

In line with government guidance, medical advice and the track and trace service, members of staff or family members of the same household displaying symptoms should stay home.

You should refrain from playing music or broadcasts at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult and that may encourage shouting. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission, particularly from aerosol transmission. The government will develop further guidance, to enable these activities to recommence as soon as possible.

Calculate the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines in the premises (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) and limiting the number of appointments at any one time.

Operate an appointment only system and ensure these are staggered to reduce overlap and unplanned gatherings within the premises. Also encourage clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment.

COVID-19 related screening questions to be asked of clients ahead of their appointment, include:

  • Have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
  • Do you have a high temperature?
  • Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
  • If the client has any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment.

Maintain social distancing in waiting areas when clients wait for their appointments. It is advisable that when waiting areas can no longer maintain social distancing, consider moving to a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy.

Review working practices to minimise the duration of contact with clients. Where extended treatments are undertaken, such as braiding, consider how the length of the appointment could be minimised.

When scheduling appointments, ask the client if they can attend on their own, where possible.

In terms of opening times – you may only want to operate at reduced hours to enable time between clients to carefully clean all areas before the next client and reduce contact times.

Adjust how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients, for example, queue management or one-way flow. This may only be possible in larger establishments.

Client toilets

To enable good hand hygiene in those premises which offer toilet facilities for clients, hand sanitiser should be made available on entry to toilets, where safe and practical. Provide suitable handwashing facilities which include running water and liquid soap, in addition to suitable options for drying hands i.e. paper towels or hand driers.

Ensure that toilet facilities are regularly cleaned in line with usage frequency, using normal cleaning products paying particular attention to hand contact points and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces. Keep the facilities well ventilated e.g. opening windows and fixing doors open where appropriate to do so.

You might also have to consider providing more waste facilities and more frequent waste collections.

Providing and explain guidance to clients

At the point of scheduling appointments and on arrival to the premises, provide clear guidance on expected client behaviours, social distancing and hygiene to people verbally, with signage and visual aids. It should be made clear to clients that failure to observe safety measures will result in services not being provided.

You should also display posters or information outlining the latest guidelines setting out how clients should behave on your premises to keep everyone safe. Also consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.

Ensure any information is visible throughout the entire premises for you and clients to refer to. Keep a copy of your Covid19 risk assessment on site for staff and clients to reference.

Protecting people who are at higher risk


Clinically vulnerable individuals should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable). If they cannot maintain social distancing, you should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk. You must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Stagger arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, whilst taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.

Social distancing for staff

  • Staff should be encouraged to increase the frequency of handwashing and cleaning.
  • Keep activity times with clients as short as possible.
  • Use back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face to-face) whenever possible.
  • Operate a consistent pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity.

Moving around salons, premises and other people’s homes

Install screens to create a physical barrier between workstations, where this is practical. This will not be required between the practitioner and client when the practitioner is wearing a visor.

Please note: there is no requirement for the client to wear any additional protection such as a mask or face covering, when the practitioner is wearing a visor.

Provide floor markings and signage to remind both workers and clients to maintain social distancing wherever possible.

Review layouts and processes to maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) between clients being served simultaneously, ensuring there is sufficient spacing between client chairs, for example, closing off alternate chairs.

Minimise how frequently equipment is shared between workers, frequently clean between uses and assign to an individual where possible.

Install screens to protect workers in receptions or similar areas.

Any home visits should be carried out in accordance with government guidance for working in other people’s homes.

Cleaning the workplace

Space appointments to allow for frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.

Frequently clean objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including door handles or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

Sanitise any reusable equipment, including client chairs, treatment beds, and equipment, such as scissors used after each appointment, and at the start and end of shifts.

Use disposable gowns for each client. Where this is not possible, use separate gowns (and towels in the normal way) for each client, wash between uses and dispose appropriately as required.

Maintain good ventilation in the work environment, for example keeping windows and/or doors open.

Adopt good handwashing techniques and increase handwashing in between appointments. For mobile operators, in the absence of handwashing facilities, you must use hand sanitiser.

Provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations within the premises in addition to washrooms.

Set out clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.


As you have been closed for an extended period water in tanks and pipework would have been ‘standing’ for a period of time. Warm weather conditions may have created the right environment for legionella bacteria to grow. These type of bacteria thrive at temperatures between 20oC and 50oC.

  • Check any air conditioning or ventilation systems – these should be serviced and cleaned in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance.
  • Run all taps for approximately 5 minutes – and place any shower heads in a container of water to prevent aerosol spray being inhaled and run through.
  • Raise the temperature of water tanks to at least 60oC or above to ensure any legionella bacteria are killed.

Useful links

Further information on the guidance referred to in this document can be found via the links below:

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