KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — When the economy reopened during the Recovery Movement Control Order (MCO) last year, barbers, hairdressing salons and beauty parlours were among the last sectors to be given the green light to resume operation.
This was because it was difficult to comply with the physical distancing stipulated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) as it involves physical contact and it was feared that this would increase the risk of COVID infection.
Ironically, the haircare and beauty sector that contributed RM13.5 billion a year to the nation’s gross domestic product did not create any new COVID-19 clusters after business resumed from June 10.
However there was a positive case which involved a foreign barber who had provided house-to-house haircut services illegally while barbershops were closed during the first phase of the MCO from March 18.
Just when business was picking up, history has to repeat itself, and it’s time to hibernate again for the 16,728 registered hair salon businesses in the country, employing 74,500 workers following MCO 2.0 implementation.
Gabungan Pendandan Rambut Malaysia representative, Bambang Sutrisno Soteto said about 5,800 barbers and hairdressing salons have closed down since the enforcement of MCO last year.
Worried that many more will close their businesses, he said the association has written an appeal to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to allow businesses to operate.
“Previously, we have proven that we have complied with the conditions set by the authorities and no clusters have emerged from this sector and we are confident that we can do the same this time,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
Among the SOPs set by the government for those providing such services were that staff must be equipped with face shields, masks and personal protective equipment, physical distance between customers to be at least two metres apart and the number of customers allowed in the premises to be limited according to the floor area.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Spas Association (Amspa) president Datin Jeanette Tembakau is also feeling anxious that the spa industry will come to an end if they are not given the permission to operate.
To date, she estimated about 60 spas have closed down as they could not afford the cost.
“We give emphasis on cleanliness and SOP compliance while working. We only allow two customers in one room and the beds are placed far from one another. We also make sure that the spa therapists go through the online SOP training,” she said.
She added that spa services can be regarded as an essential service since its function is related to health especially effective therapy to reduce stress.
“Nowadays people are under a lot of stress especially when they are trapped at home and told to work from home. Less movement causes low energy and fatigue,” she said, adding there are 400 registered members under Amspa.
A spa operator, Shalwiza Rahmat, 36, said like other businesses, her five-year-old spa business needs cash flow to survive, pay staff salary and shop rental.
“Don’t sideline us again. The three-month closure earlier had cost us dearly and we have not recovered,” said the owner of Derma Medispa in Johor