Small business owners prepare for extreme changes as they officially reopen

  • Hairdressers, cinemas and pubs are among the businesses in England allowed to reopen to customers
  • But there are warnings that lapses in social distancing could cause coronavirus to spread 
  • A salon owner and a volunteer at Oxfam explain how their working environment has had to change

More businesses in England reopen their doors to the public after three months in lockdown. But government guidelines mean big changes to the way they operate.

Cathy Colhoun, a salon owner of 21 years at the Cutting Crew in Stretford, still has concerns about the virus: “It is worrying because it’s not gone away. It’s still here but I think if we follow the government guidelines and wear all our PPE and thoroughly clean before and after each client and stay two meters apart, I know we have done everything possible to keep my staff and clients safe.” 

“Salon life will be very different to how it used to be before the pandemic. We have totally moved everything around so we are at a two meter distance.”

Following the Government’s announcements, owners are having to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) to protect staff and clients. Cathy said: “I have had hand gel sanitiser stations fitted around the salon and screens made to separate each section. I’ve also removed the hand towel in the toilet and fitted a paper towel dispenser to maintain hygiene.

“And finally perspex dividers have been installed in between the backwashes along with yellow/black tape on the floor to mark out where we will be working.”

All businesses that welcome the public daily complete an online assessment set by the Government to ensure they’re following guidelines and maintaining the safety of all workers and customers. Cathy believes her team has made good progress: “All of the staff have passed the Covid 19 Barbicide sanitation assessment and all got a certificate to have on display in the salon. We are having a meeting to go through the Covid 19 risk assessment the day before we open.”  


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During the lockdown many businesses have had to replenish stock especially salons as many of their products have a short use-by date. She said: “I’ve put a massive stock order in. We have three months of clients to catch up with. That is three months of colours and products.”

Small retail stores in Manchester’s Northern Quarter such as OXFAM, Cow, and Blue Rinse have also been able to reopen.

Amelia, a volunteer worker for OXFAM, says they have worked hard to make sure staff and customers feel safe and protected visiting the shop: “We took a week to make sure that we had put tape on the floor, had screens up, had enough PPE to protect ourselves and our customers from the coronavirus.

“We have to quarantine donations for up to 72 hours before we can touch them.

“All of our volunteers had to do another risk assessment and we make sure they know how things work in here and they know not to be gathering, making sure that they are washing their hands often when they can and then doing hand sanitising between those times.”

However, some businesses are worried that the public may not even realise that they are open for business again. Amelia said: “We’ve been letting people know on our Instagram and our Twitter that we’re open and that we’re accepting donations to come and support us.”