Frustrated companies fume at Boris Johnson's England lockdown U-turn

Beauty salons will go bust if Boris Johnson does not allow them to reopen soon, the industry has warned, as leisure businesses were hit by the sudden postponement of plans to lift restrictions on Saturday.

The planned reopening for some beauty services in England had been viewed as a lifeline for salons and beauty therapists, said Lesley Blair, chair of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology which represents more than 10,000 businesses ranging from salon chains to mobile beauticians.

“We are one of the last-standing industries which are on the high street, so the longer this goes on, the likelihood is that more salons are going to go out of business,” she said.

“We have already seen some businesses, successful businesses, that are not going to be opening up after this situation. Each week that goes by is making even more chance of other people not being able to open.”

Beauty salons had been expecting to resume close-contact services such as eyebrow threading or make-up application.

Blair added: “There are lots of people who only do make-up, only do eyebrows, only do lashes, all of these people have not been able to work and this is massive blow to them. We need financial support for them because these people are not going to be able to survive.”

Casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks were also hit by the prime minister’s announcement. The owner of Britain’s biggest casino has said he was “appalled” by the last-minute decision to postpone by a fortnight the reopening of certain leisure businesses in England that had been earmarked for opening on 1 August.

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Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome Casino, located in London’s Leicester Square, said it was a “joke” for the government “to make such a decision with such little notice”.

“I feel somewhere between crying and being sick. It’s frustrating and unsettling. Businesses like ours aren’t things you can just turn on and off like a light,” he said, He questioned why the postponement included casinos, which often occupy larger venues.

The Hippodrome Casino had brought 400 of its 750 staff back from furlough for retraining, in preparation for reopening at midday on 1 August. It has taken the company two weeks to prepare the 8,000 sq metre ( 86,1111 sq feet) building for reopening, including deep-cleaning and restocking of its ATMs, bars and restaurants.

Thomas questioned the government’s decision to postpone the reopening across England, asking if it had abandoned its strategy to rely on local lockdowns as a response to spikes in Covid-19 cases, after Johnson said in July that he hoped to avoid a second England-wide lockdown.

Casino company Genting, which had previously announced it would cut 1,600 jobs as a result of Covid-19, called the government’s decision “devastating”. It said each week of closure costs the company more than £1.5m and a further delay would put more jobs at risk.

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The postponement will cause considerable problems for the businesses affected, said Michael Kill, the chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, which represents businesses including casinos and bowling alleys.

Kill said he had been inundated with calls from members asking what they should do.

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“They have taken everyone off furlough, so now they’ve got two weeks of extension of cost which they have realistically got to cover themselves, but they have no income.”



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