Ajman barbers warned over hygiene

Safety awareness campaign launched, with Dh10,000 penalty or possible closure for shops that reuse single-use items or fail properly to sterilise equipment.

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AJMAN // Barber shops in Ajman face fines of up to Dh10,000 and possible closure of their businesses if they break hygiene regulations. The Ajman Municipality and Planning Department launched a campaign this week aimed at encouraging barbers to use razors and piercing equipment only once. An awareness workshop was also held on Wednesday as part of the programme.

"Many people do not know what diseases can be got from barber shops if the equipment used is not sterilised or if some piercing equipment is used more than once," said Sulaiman Saleh, a private health practitioner who was one of the speakers at the workshop. Strict action should be taken against barbers who flout hygiene measures, said Khalid al Hosni, the director of the municipality's Department of Environment and Public Health.

Barbers should use recommended sterilisation agents, solutions or equipment to remove germs and viruses from their instruments after each use, he said. "This is the time to create awareness. Next we shall be conducting inspections and taking serious action against violators," he said. Violations can lead to fines from Dh500 to Dh10,000 or even closure for repeated offences, he added. There are 480 barber shops registered in Ajman and each will receive a brochure written in both Arabic and English about the campaign.

Mr al Hosni asked owners to allow clients access to them at all times and called upon residents to report any offernces to the municipality. Mr al Hosni also urged barbers to wear facial masks and gloves while at work. Barbers should also familiarise themselves with ways of preventing the spread of illnesses because of their close contact with their customers, said Dr Mohammed Abdul Swamad, of the Ajman Specialty Hospital.

"Contagious diseases, skin infections and blood poisoning are caused by transferring infectious material from one person to another or by using unsanitary tools," he said. "Dirty hands or fingernails are also sources of contagion." Since barbering services require direct contact with the customers' skin, scalp and hair, sanitation cannot be overemphasised, said Ismael Khatib, an Ajman resident, who advised that the municipality inspect barber shops a minimum of once a month.

Besides the spread of diseases, the brochure also cautions barbers not to carry out facial massages and skin treatments in their shops. There are registered venues allowed to perform such services, Mr al Hosni said. Some barbers disagreed with that policy and feared it could hurt trade. Emaddullah Khan, an Indian barber in the Nuaimiya area, said facial massages were given as a courtesy to their customers.

Many clients would consider going to only those that could do the best facial massage, which would mean a loss of business for those shops that could no longer offer the service. "Some saloons charge Dh5 for the massage but for us we just do it for free for our customers to come back," he said. And some barbers said they were already aware of the single use for blades and sterilisation of their equipment before the brochures were given to them.

"We sterilise our equipment using detergents after every use. We use new blades for each customer and the handle is also sterilised," said a Pakistan barber in Ajman's Rashidiya area, who preferred to be identified only as Mubarak. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae