When the government announced the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) last year to boost the economy, barbershops and hair salons were among the last sector to be given the green light to resume operation.
And just when their business was picking up and started to get better again, the third wave hit us and its time to hibernate again. Malaysians must comply with the MCO rule; where only essential sectors remained open and employees are advice to work from home.
The hibernation period last year alone has caused over 5,800 barbers and hairdressing salons closed down. Many worried that more will close their businesses as they cannot afford a second MCO.
Over 5,800 barbershops and hairdressing salons closed down last year due to the pandemic
Barbershop operators have appealed to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to provide them with an exemption from restrictions on business under the MCO.
Undoubtedly, it was hard to give green light to them as it was difficult to comply with the physical distancing stipulated by the Health Ministry (MOH) as it involves physical contact between the barber and customer. It was feared that this would increase the risk of Covid-19 infection.
Joe who works as a barber at Zezars Barbershop told WargaBiz that his financial situation is now worse and he cannot afford a second MCO.
“Business has been badly affected and we are really on a tight budget to pay for the shop rental and staff salary. As the shop has been closed since January our revenue had declined by as much as 50%”
He feared the barbershop would not survive if the MCO extends for 1-2 months ahead
“I miss the sounds of the hair clipper machine, setting up my customers on the chairs, talking to them. But these days, the doors are shut – there is no money coming in and a lot of barbers don’t know what to do right now,” Joe said.
“Some barbers are considering to change their professions. All of us are from the B40 group and we cannot just sit and do nothing. We have rentals to pay and family to feed.”
Joe said industry players don’t mind if the government chooses to tighten the SOPs for hair salons as long as they were allowed to operate as soon as possible.
“Previously, we have proven that we have complied with the SOPs set by the authorities as in wearing face shields, masks and personal protective equipment, sanitise our premise regularly and maintain physical distance between customers and we are confident that we can do the same this time. We don’t mind if the government wants to tighten the SOPs to avoid a “barbershop cluster”. But, please let us resume our business.”
Joe added that they are selling face masks for temporary since they haven’t get any confirmation yet from the government to operate the business.
“Don’t sideline us again. We need cash flow to survive and in fact, we have not fully recovered from the previous closure earlier last year.”