Salonists and barbershop operators in Bureti sub-county of Kericho are now adjusting to the new practices in their day-to-day grooming business following government directives targeting the hair and beauty industry as the war on Covid-19 pandemic intensifies.
Groomers based in Litein town are currently recording low returns in their businesses as they adopt to the new directives issued in April even as clients decrease since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Kenya.
The new rules set out by the Ministry of Health (MOH) against the deadly virus stipulates wearing of facemasks at all times by the groomers and their clients while attending them as well as restricting their number in addition to equipping their work stations with antibacterial sanitisers and soaps.
Over 40 salonists and barbers shops whose customers not only come from neighbouring counties of Kisii, Bomet, and Nyamira counties, do not have the option to work from home.
The hair salon and barbershop has always been an intimate affair; it is a place where close contact is non-negotiable.
A business owner of Metro Kinyozi barbershop Dominic Bett said previously he would serve 50 clients in a day and currently only ten visit his barbershop for grooming and is now faced with the harsh reality of adhering to the new rules that have changed the core of his formally bustling ten-year-old business.
Bett added that he has re-organised his operations, which has increased his overhead costs and he is now forced to reconcile with daily negative earnings.
“My business has been my life; it has been with me for the last ten years; this is where I earn my income which is based on touching people’s heads and faces on a daily basis. Generally am experiencing a deep shrink in my profits. Before corona, we used to work as a group of four barbers but we now work two of us in a weekly shift. We would serve not less than 50 clients each day now we are lucky if we get ten.
We charge a minimum of Sh50. I have to purchase facemasks, which go for Sh50 for my assistants as well as for my customers as well as sanitisers every two days at Sh1,200 for a litre. We have now been forced to adapt to the cashless transactions as well as adhere to the new curfew guidelines, where we close at 8pm whereas previously we left the barbershop at 10pm every day,” he said.
A client Kibet Festus Chepkwony said he has been getting his hair cut at the barbershop for the last six years and vowed to keep coming until they are forced to close their doors.
“I come here because it is very clean and they sanitise their equipment and I do not have issues as far as social distancing is concerned,” said Chepkwony.
A hard-pressed proprietor of Rhoda Salon that has been in operation in Litein town for the last 15 years Ms Martha Moraa said she has had to lay off three of her workers and remain with only three as a way of surviving the harsh effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on her once lucrative business.
Closing her business is not an option for her as the earnings have helped educate her two children to university.
“Before corona happened I used to have six workers, I had to sack three because I could not afford to pay them since my customers stopped coming to have their hair done. I used to have at least 10 clients and would make at least Sh5,000 per day but as of now only two will visit my salon and I take home Sh500.
There is no way we are going to make money because we have to come into the shop and people are not coming because they are scared they are going to get sick. I have to purchase facemasks in addition to sanitisers and soap. We always wear gloves and we are trying to take extra precautions by cleaning the shop a little bit more especially after every client,” she added.
In an interview with the Kericho Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mr David Bii urged the barbers, hairdressers and beauty operators to have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the MOH guidelines to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
“Clients are worried, so many of them are staying at home and this is a great challenge the barbers and hairdressers in the County are facing as their customers have reduced by a big margin. They should embrace the laid down operating procedures to protect themselves from corona virus whose impact is not only being felt in the country but also globally. Social distancing measures, adhere to the cleaning, disinfection of their tools and premises and don face masks at all times to be able to continue with their businesses safely. This is a challenge but it is for their own safety and that of their customers,” said Bii.
He called upon the county government to provide the groomers with facemasks, soaps and sanitizers at a subsidized cost adding that this will prevent them from incurring deficits as they adjust to the new life of engaging in their business entities amid the pandemic.
“I am appealing to those responsible in the County government to provide for them soap, sanitizers and facemasks at a subsidized price. This will help them a lot. Covid-19 is here to stay and they should ensure safety and protective measures come first,” added Bii.
By Sarah Njagi