[Updated:] Northern Ireland beauty salons can reopen from April 23

Beauty salons and therapists in Northern Ireland can reopen from Friday, April 23, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Forster announced the date at a special sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which took place on Thursday, April 15.

The First Minister described it as a landmark day and said, “We must also stress that while we are taking important decisions today, the virus is still with us. It is still dangerous and we cannot drop our guard. People are still being infected, hospitals are still receiving patients and unfortunately people are still at risk of serious illness and death. So we ask everyone to be mindful. Step out, but step carefully.”

When is the Northern Ireland beauty salons reopening date?

On Friday, April 23, Northern Ireland beauty and hair businesses, including mobile therapists, will be able to reopen. Other lockdown easing measures taking place on this date include outdoor visitor attractions reopening, competitive sports, outside band practice and driving lessons.

What does the Northern Ireland easing of lockdown plan look like?

Friday, April 23

Friday, April 30

Monday, May 24

Prior to this announcemnt, it had been announced that salons would fall under phases three and four of the government's five-stage reopening plan.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill outlined the new measures in an address on March 2. She described the route as "a careful, cautious and hopeful approach to existing restrictions".

Updates were given on March 16 and April 1, but no salon reopening date was announed at that time.

The plan outlined a five-stage process moving from lockdown to easing of restrictions for nine different sectors, including close contact services. 

However, no dates were given at that time for any of the phases, nor details of what needed to happen to move on through each phase.

Close contact services are covered under phase three, the "Gradual Easing" phase. 

Certain restrictions fall until phase four, "Further Easing", under which "All close contact services open without appointments, with remaining mitigations."

When did Northern Ireland enter lockdown?

The current lockdown is the latest in a series in the nation, the previous one being a two-week “circuit-break” lockdown that came into effect on November 27, just one week after they had been allowed to reopen following the previous five-week closure period.

The current restrictions, which came into force at 00.01am on December 26, involve the closure of all salons and spas, as well as non-essential shops pubs, bars and restaurants (apart from takeaway).

Why have there been so many lockdowns in Northern Ireland?

The coronavirus restrictions in November saw the closure of all non-essential retail and close-contact services, including beauty salons, hair salons, spas, barbers and mobile beauty businesses. However, schools remained open. 

Hotels and other accommodation providers were allowed to operate but on a restricted basis – i.e. for work-related travel and vulnerable people, while there will also be a strict work from home message. The tougher restrictions are being brought in to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. 

The restrictions were criticised by many business leaders, especially as they impacted beauty and hair businesses at their busiest time of the year. 

Salons were previously made to close from Friday, October 16, for a four-week period to curb the spread of the virus. The "firebreak" restrictions were due to end at midnight on November 13 but were then extened for a further week following disagreements between the parties that form the Northern Ireland Executive.

Is your salon based in Northern Ireland? Tell us how you’re feeling below. 

In England, salons were allowed to reopen from April 12.

Salons in Wales were also allowed to reopen on April 12, while beauty businesses in Scotland have been given an expected later April reopening date.

Keep an eye on our beauty salons local lockdowns page for regular updates.