Residents hoping to trim their overgrown locks may face a wait to see a professional stylist, with salons in Dubai facing overwhelming demand as movement restrictions are eased in the city.
On Thursday evening, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management announced a partial reduction on travel restrictions in the emirate, starting on Friday, April 24.
The move, which coincides with the beginning of Ramadan, allows beauty salons and barbershops in the city to reopen, with strict precautions in place for safety reasons.
Customers can only be received if they make a prior booking, in order to reduce overcrowding as people rush to shed split ends.
As of Friday, hair salons and barbershops can start welcoming clients for hair and nail services only. This includes haircuts, hair colouring, manicures and pedicures. Services that will not be provided are waxing, eyebrow treatments, massages and facials.
“Things have been quite chaotic since the announcement was made last night,” says Helen Deiki, owner of Spirals Beauty Salon in Jumeirah Village Circle. “I started receiving messages which went on until 3am asking if appointments could be made the next day.
"Last week, we started a wait-list system as we anticipated the rush. As of now, we have about 100 people on the list and more calling trying to bypass it. I had to put out a message on social media asking people to please bear with us while we figure things out.”
Due to current regulations, salons are allowed to operate with 30 per cent of their staff at a time. Coupled with the regulations on opening hours and social distancing rules, with shops only allowed to operate at 30 per cent capacity, some salon owners say that they are going to be booked out for weeks, with priority given to regulars.
“The clients we are seeing now are the ones we were supposed to see five weeks ago, and we have new enquiries coming in,” says Maria Dowling, hair colourist and founder of the Maria Dowling salon in Bur Dubai.
“At the same time, we have fewer staff, and customers have to be spaced two metres apart, allowing us to take in fewer guests at a time. We are going to have to slot customers in weeks from now.”
Both owners have decided to open their establishments on Sunday, April 26, so that sterilisation procedures can be followed according to Dubai Municipality's requirements.
However, other salons across the emirate have started opening doors over the weekend. The Red Lounge, which has branches in Barsha Heights and Karama, sent a message to customers announcing that they are open with full safety and hygiene procedures as per Dubai Municipality guidelines.
All clients are requested to wear a mask, appointments need to be made in advance, and those with any cold or flu symptoms will be denied entry.
Dubai's Beauty Connection Spa, in Al Quoz, also announced its reopening at noon on Friday, April 24, via social media.
Precautions being put into place
According to official rules, “all preventive and health measures should be strictly observed”, with customers and hair stylists required to wear face masks at all times.
“We are sending messages to clients ahead of their appointments telling them what we expect from them, and what we are doing for them," says Dowling. "We are checking if they’ve been in contact with anyone who may have had the virus over the last two weeks and checking temperatures. All equipment used, from combs to scissors, will be sterilised, while water will be distributed in paper cups."
Spirals Beauty Lounge is also disinfecting seats and door knobs. Doors will be locked to create a more contained environment and, of the six salon chairs in the branch, only three will be used at a time to accommodate social distancing. Hand sanitiser will also be readily available.
Salons are officially allowed to be open from noon to 10pm, although individual locations may vary their timings within those hours.
Advice for customers
Deiki recommends customers get in touch with their favourite stylist right away, as many have started accepting bookings, to find out how long the waiting list is. Most likely, the establishment will call back once it has finalised procedures and timings, and appoint slots that are available.
Meanwhile, Dowling advises clients to accept that things are not going back to the way they were right away. “I think the salon will be a lot quieter than usual,” she says.
“Normally it’s busy and buzzing in there. But at the end of the day, we will be following the Dubai Municipality rules – to keep both our staff and our clients safe.”