BEAUTY salon workers in and near Oswestry have criticised the decision to announce salons were not permitted to open for face-to-face treatments, just 12 hours before their scheduled openings.

Salons across the country were set to reopen for face-to-face treatments on Saturday, August 1, but a last-minute change to lockdown easing by Prime Minister Boris Johnson meant facial treatments had to be postponed.

Beauticians were given less than 24 hours of notice, meaning appointments had to be cancelled for clients who have been without treatments for more than five months.

Jo Follows-Smith, of Gobowen, works in the beauty industry, and says the short notice given to cancel all facial treatments was frustrating, and feels businesses like hers have been let down.

“Frustrating is a nice way of putting it,” she said.

“We were one of the first industries to be closed and we donated a lot of our masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS because that’s something we use every day.

“To be given 12 hours’ notice after spending almost four hours going through my list of people waiting for appointments and booking them in, and then having to get back to them all and say there’s nothing we can do.

“It has a knock-on effect on our clients because some of them will have made childcare arrangements for when they are getting treatments done.”

After knowing she would be without work for some time, Jo started working at a care home in the meantime, but handed in her notice when it looked as though the beauty industry would be resuming near the beginning of July.

However the restarting of the industry was delayed again, leaving her without work.

She is concerned about the mental health of people working in her industry as she believes there has been a lack of support when compared with other businesses.

She said: “As a woman I feel really discriminated against – I saw an image of a man having his eyebrows threaded at a barber shop, and people can get their beards trimmed, but we can’t go ahead with beauty treatments.

“Infection rates have still gone up while our industry has been closed the whole way through, so they actually do not know the impact of close contact services like ours on those numbers because we haven’t had chance to open.

“There has never been any guidance for us and it seems as though it has been very reactive and not proactive.

“You don’t want other businesses to be suffocated or closed, but we obviously don’t want ours to be in that position either.

“But those businesses that have been open have had the same self-employment grants that we’ve had – some of their doors have been open for six or eight weeks now and ours haven’t, but there has been no extra support for us.

“The mental health of the women in this business is important – a lot of them are single parents who work at home to fit work around childcare.

“I feel massively let down, completely unsupported and completely overlooked.

“It was almost as if it was treated like a hobby to be working in this industry, when actually it is a huge industry that we all pay into the economy through.”

Fellow salon worker, Oswestry-based Kim Michelle, agreed that the short notice given to cancel bookings was an issue.

“It’s very much a problem,” she said. “We ordered in products to get ready, we’ve spent our own time booking people in, especially with it being the summer holidays because we have to work it around children and other commitments as well.

“You spend time getting everyone in who have been waiting for five months, as well as sanitising the salon, sterilising everything and making sure we have all the PPE we need even though we’ve had no income for five months.

“I had clients booked in from 9am on Saturday morning, and I had to take my own time again to rearrange everything on short notice.

“It’s very frustrating. A lot of my work is with bridal makeup and all of my weddings for this year have cancelled, so the appointments I have been booking in are for things like brows and lashes, to try and get some sort of income this year.

“So I’ve still lost most of my business, so I was looking at ways to book in other appointments over the next few weeks and months, but now that’s gone again as well.

“You feel let down and it feels like a sexist decision as well, especially as men can get beards trimmed but ladies can’t get a lip wax.

“It feels as though the industry hasn’t been considered at all. They have given grants out to the food industry to encourage people to get out and support them.

“There’s all sorts of things being done to keep these industries going and beauty has just been left.”