Covid-19: Government safety guidelines for close contact beauty services released
The Government has released its official guidelines for beauty salons, spas, nail bars, make-up artists and mobile/home-based therapists in England on how to safely reopen their businesses post-Covid-19.
The “Keeping workers and clients safe during Covid-19 in close contact services: Covid-19 secure guidance for employers, employees and the self-employed” was published on June 23 and is a guide to help you restart operations at your beauty business during the pandemic. The Government has stated that the document will be updated over time, which should hopefully give more clarity to larger operations such as spas.
The Government defines close contact services as “hairdressing, barbershops, beauty and nail bars, make-up, tattoo and spray tanning studios, spas, sports and massage therapy, and wellbeing and holistic locations. This guidance is also designed for those who provide mobile close contact services from their homes and in other people’s homes.”
Although hairdressers and barbershops are permitted to reopen on July 4, all beauty services – salons, spas and mobile/home-based businesses – remain closed until further notice.
Read the Government’s full guidance document on close contact services.
How to conduct the first step of the Government’s Covid-19 guidance for beauty businesses – the risk assessment
To help beauty businesses decide which actions to take, they must first carry out an appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment, done in consultation with unions or workers. “Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of Covid-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of Covid-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law,” it states in the report.
You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce and also publish them on your website. You also need to demonstrate to clients that you have properly assessed the risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this by displaying a notification in a prominent place in your business. There is a notice on page 10 of the Government’s guidance report which you can use for this.
The measures you will need to make to manage risk in your business, in order of priority, are:
- Ensuring both workers and clients who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premise
- Increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
- Make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the Government (social distancing by 2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable)
- Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff
- Clearly, when providing close contact services, it often may not be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines. As a result, personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of a visor will be required to mitigate the risk. Further mitigating actions include:
- Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
- Using screens or barriers to separate clients from one another. If the practitioner is wearing a visor, screens will not provide additional protection between the practitioner and the individual. Everyone working in close proximity for an extended period of time must wear a visor
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
- Using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity (defined as being within arm’s-length of someone else for a sustained period of time).
- Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. Services which require workers to be within the "highest risk zone" of clients (defined as the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth, that may not be visible, can be present and pose a hazard), for the entire duration or the majority of the time the service is being provided, should not be resumed unless they can be adapted in line with this guidance to make them safe (for example, by moving out of the highest risk zone and wearing a visor).
What measures will I need to take in salon/spa to keep clients safe?
- The opening up of the economy following the Covid-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your clients and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks
- All premises should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting
- Encouraging clients to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises or before treatment
- Calculating the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) and limiting the number of appointments at any one time. Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas
- Informing clients and contractors of guidance about visiting the premises prior to and at the point of arrival, including information on websites, on booking forms and in entrance ways
- Adjusting how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients, for example, queue management or one-way flow. This may only be possible in larger establishments
- Using outside spaces for queuing where available and safe, for example, some car parks, and managing these to ensure they do not cause risk to individuals, for example by using barriers and having staff direct clients
- Minimising contact between different workers while performing a service on a client
- Operating an appointment-only system
- Encouraging clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment and maintaining social distancing in waiting areas – when waiting areas can no longer maintain social distancing, consider moving to a “one-in-one-out” policy
- Reviewing working practices to minimise the duration of contact with the client, and where extended treatments are undertaken, consider how the length of appointment could be minimised
- Covid-19 related questions to be asked of clients’ ahead of their appointment: have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough? Do you have a high temperature? Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell? If clients have had any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home
- Providing clear guidance on expected client behaviours, social distancing and hygiene to people before arrival, when scheduling their appointment, and on arrival, for example, with signage and visual aids. Explaining to clients that failure to observe safety measures will result in services not being provided. Full details for this can be found on page 16 of the document.
How to maintain social distancing for workers in the business:
You need to“ensure workers maintain social distancing guidelines wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work and while in work,” states the report. Mitigating actions include:
- Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
- Using screens or barriers to separate clients from one another. If the practitioner is wearing a visor, screens will not provide additional protection between the practitioner and the individual
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) where possible
- Using a consistent pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity
- Maintaining social distancing between the treatment or service areas, such as client chairs
- Social distancing applies to all parts of a business or home, not just the treatment room, but waiting rooms, corridors and staircases too
- Stagger arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding in and out of the workplace and provide additional parking or bike racks to help people cycle or drive to work
- Reduce congestion by having more entry points to the workplace, where possible
- Provide hand washing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points
- Provide floor markings and signage to remind both workers and clients to maintain social distancing wherever possible, especially in client interaction zones
- Work stations should be assigned to an individual as much as possible. If they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest number of people possible
- Avoid overrunning or overlapping appointments and minimise contacts around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments where possible
- Minimising how frequently equipment is shared between workers, frequently cleaning between use and assigning to an individual where possible
- Use disposable items where possible, for example, nail files, and ensuring non-disposable items are cleaned between clients
- Stagger break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms to ensure social distancing
- Install screens to protect workers in receptions or similar areas
- Encouraging workers to bring their own food and drinks, and not allowing food and drink to be consumed in the salon by clients other than water in disposable cups or bottles
- Only the client should be present in the same room for appointments taking place in the home.
Measures to take to keep the workplace clean:
- Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels
- Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however, where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers
- Spacing appointments to allow for frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products
- Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including door handles or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products
- Do not provide reading materials such as magazines in client waiting areas
- Sanitising any reusable equipment, including client chairs, treatment beds, and equipment, such as scissors used after each appointment, and at the start and end of shifts
- Using disposable gowns for each client. Where this is not possible, use separate gowns (and towels in the normal way) for each client, washing between use and disposing appropriately as required
- Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment, for example, keeping windows or doors open
- Where shower and changing facilities are required, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible
- Considering not opening client changing rooms, unless absolutely necessary.
What PPE you will need to use in your beauty businesses:
“In workplaces such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons and tattoo and photoshoot studios, it is likely to be difficult to maintain social distancing, as employees need to work in close proximity to their clients, usually for an extended period of time,” states the document.
“The person providing a service should therefore wear further protection in addition to any that they might usually wear. This should take the form of a clear visor that covers the face and provides a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking. Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. It should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face.”
- Both disposable and re-usable visors are available. A re-usable visor must be cleaned and sanitised regularly using normal cleaning products
- There is no requirement for the client to wear any additional protection such as a mask or face covering, when the practitioner is wearing a visor
- Services which require workers to be within the "highest risk zone" of clients (defined as the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth, that may not be visible, can be present and pose a hazard from the client to the practitioner and vice versa), for the entire duration or the majority of the time the service is being provided (such as eyelash extensions), should not be resumed unless they can be adapted in line with this guidance to make them safe (for example, by moving out of the highest risk zone and wearing a visor)
Adam Chatterley, chair of the UK Spa Association (UKSA), commented: “The initial draft guidelines the Government issued to us as part of the BEIS advisory board woefully under-represented our sector, with little appreciation of the complexity and range of services that we offer. The good news is that now we’ve achieved this essential recognition, we can begin to demand more clarity for spas within these guidelines.
“Our next task is to demand an urgent review of the reopening decision that has been made, with full disclosure on a future target reopening date that the Government is working towards. We will continue to fight on our industry's behalf and we will not stop until we see spas back in business and with the critical support and information needed.”
The UKSA has created its own reopening guidance for spas and salons which businesses can use hand-in-hand with the Government's guidance.
What do you make of the Government’s guidelines for the beauty industry? Comment below.