Early opening for vaccinated people ‘not viable’

By Philip Downes

A Galway hairdresser says that the planned early re-opening of salons to people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is not economically viable for his practice.

Reports from senior government sources say that the Government is set to re-open businesses such as non-essential retail and hairdressers in May, with a ‘vaccine bonus’ for those who are fully vaccinated against the virus.

This means that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may be permitted to use these services earlier than those who are not.

Mike O’Connor, founder of Bellissimo hairdressers in Galway, says that while it might be viable for sole practitioners to open earlier for vaccinated people, the re-opening of his shop would not be economically sustainable.

Photo credit Mike O’Connor

“My immediate reaction [to the reports] is that it’s not economically viable,” he said.

“If you were a small owner-operated salon with maybe less than five stylists it’s possible that you could re-open to fully vaccinated clients and be able to turn a profit. But Bellissimo have 40-50 stylists, so we wouldn’t be able to bring everyone back at once.”

“Not enough people are vaccinated fully for us to realistically re-open and make enough money to stay open”. Once restrictions are eased and salons are fully re-opened, he said that “the first six or so weeks [of fully re-opening] will be packed with people needing to fix their home ‘dos, but then after that, business may die down again for a few months,” he said.

While the salon may not re-open until the full population are permitted, O’Connor mentioned that Bellissimo Galway are currently undergoing extensive renovations with new safety measures in place for a post COVID-19 world.

“We’re completely ripping the salon apart to make sure everyone is safe,” he explained.

“These renovations will be for the long term, especially post-COVID. We’re making sure that should something like this happen again, everyone will be able to keep their distance and won’t be on top of each other,” he said.

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