Nearly a year has passed since the Covid-19 pandemic first arrived on British shores. The virus imposed a raft of national lockdowns and restrictions on life as we knew it.
The breakout of Covid-19 forced industry sectors across the United Kingdom to shut down – travel and hospitality to name a few.
Deemed a non-essential type of business, hairdressers were not immune from being asked to down tools.
Tracey Brown is a self-employed hairdresser, who works across south Dorset. She estimates the pandemic has cost her a “significant” amount of her annual income.
Indeed, she believes the government could do more to support her profession. Particularly, those who work for themselves.
She said: “I’d like the government to just sit down and talk and just to think about how these people and their businesses are being affected.
“Everybody’s different. Of course we’re all in the same boat, but we’ve all got different circumstances.”
What support has the government offered?
During the first national lockdown, the government issued a support package to protect businesses from financial ruin.
Workers who were self-employed were able to apply for help, through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
To qualify for the scheme individuals must fulfil a set of criteria. For instance, you must have traded in both tax years, up to 2019-2020.
Tracey’s circumstances meant that she did not fulfil the criteria. Thus, she was not entitled to any monetary aid from the government.
In recent weeks, campaigners have warned around three million taxpayers have received no financial support since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, the government has said its “top priority” was helping those who were struggling.
Since March, HM Revenue and Customs has provided more than £80bn to businesses, through its various support schemes.
Should hairdressers return to work?
As restrictions have been relaxed, following the two previous lockdowns, hairdressers have been allowed to resume work.
Although, this was on the premise that they meet government guidelines, around social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE).
As a mobile hairdresser, Tracey spent a notable amount of money and time to ensure the safety of herself and her clients.
Consequently, she says that she would “of course” feel safe, if she was allowed to return to work today.
She said: “I know that I am doing 100% plus to keep myself safe and safe for the clients.
“I feel that I am doing everything in my capability to keep everybody safe, that I see during the course of my day.
“I cannot do anymore than what I’m currently doing and the good thing is that the clients see me cleaning my equipment.
“I’m quite comfortable going back because I know that I have 100% disinfected everything and I’m completely covered with regards to PPE.”
A return to normality?
The rollout of the vaccination programme has given business owners hope that some form of normality can be reached over the coming months.
However, Tracey remains sceptical of how quickly that can be achieved. She also questions how comfortable certain age groups will be to return to that way of life.
She said: “It would be great for things to return to normal, but it’s difficult to see. It’s going to be a new normal.
“I think it’s going to take the rest of this year for people to feel confident again to get back into a normal way of living.”
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