Hairdressers and barbers told to wear surgical masks from today in huge U-turn

Hairdressers and barbers in England have been ordered to wear full surgical masks to prevent coronavirus in a massive government U-turn.

In a major change, anyone working in “close contact services” – which also includes nail and beauty salons – must wear a disposable ‘Type 2’ mask as well as a face visor from today.

It comes as beauty salons are finally given the green light to resume “high-risk” services like eyebrows and facials from tomorrow.

Boris Johnson finally introduced the rule more than three weeks after his experts said wearing a clear plastic “visor” wasn’t enough to stop Covid-19.

The only compulsory thing hairdressers have had to wear since they reopened on July 4 has been a face visor.

A covering hasn’t ever been needed over their nose and mouth – despite becoming compulsory in nearly all indoor public spaces and on public transport.

In a meeting on July 22, a sub-group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) ruled visors alone “are unlikely to be an effective control for aerosol transmission”.

Each mask must be worn only once and then discarded safely

SAGE added: “We recommend that guidance for UK hairdressers and barbers should be strengthened to include wearing of face coverings.”

Yet the government dawdled over the findings for weeks, leading experts to speak out in protest.

Now the guidance has finally been updated – and goes even further than what SAGE said on July 22.

Instead of wearing a face “covering”, which can include a scarf or piece of cloth, anyone working in “close contact services” must now wear a full “type 2” surgical mask.

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This includes hairdressers and barbers, as well as nail and beauty salons, tattoo, tanning and massage parlours, and dress fitters and tailors.

Each mask must be worn only once and then discarded safely, “ideally into a non-touch and self-closing bin”.

Stylists must now wear both a mask and a plastic visor, like the one pictured

New guidance adds: “A Type II face mask should be worn with the visor.

“Type II face masks are not PPE but will provide a physical barrier to minimise contamination of the mouth and nose when used correctly.

“Ensure you are hydrated before putting a mask on.”

Face masks must also not be touched once on the face, and must be changed if they become moist or damaged, or difficult to breathe through.

Downing Street said the move was “taking into account new evidence provided by SAGE and consultation with industry”.

A statement added: “This will help protect the customer and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, or speaking.”

The original guidance to hairdressers, when they opened on July 4, said wearing a face covering may only be “marginally beneficial”, and the evidence it would protect customers “is weak and the effect is likely to be small”.

Those phrases were removed on July 23, the day after the experts’ meeting, and replaced with the words: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from COVID-19.

“However, face coverings are not an alternative for employees who wear a visor in close contact services.”

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The guidance has now been updated yet again.

The scientists made their recommendation after a US study found two COVID-19 infected hairdressers, who wore face coverings, did not pass on the disease to 139 clients.

Scientific advisors had spoken in public to criticise the government’s previous guidance

Dr Ben Killingley of SAGE group NERVTAG told the Mirror the government’s previous guidance for hairdressers “doesn’t go far enough”.

He added: “They obviously can’t keep their distance and a visor, in my view, doesn’t do as good a job as a face mask at containing respiratory secretions.”

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the separate SAGE sub-group NERVTAG, also hit out at previous guidance.

Stressing he was giving a personal opinion, he told the Mirror: “I can understand why it’s more convenient to wear a visor, but really what is a visor going to do?”

He added: “I think it’s absolutely clear that wearing a face visor is going to direct the expelled air and droplets.. in a downward direction.

“If you were, for example, a hairdresser and you’re working on somebody’s hair and wearing a visor that would not really in any way be likely to afford protection.”



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