Barbers, beauty salons call for mask mandate easing


Tribune Business Reporter


Barbers and beauty salons yesterday called for the Government to relax its COVID mask mandate with the sector “coming back” slowly from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.

Anton Minnis, vice-president of the Bahamian Cosmetologists and Barbers Association (BCBA), told Tribune Business that the Government’s decision to ease COVID restrictions by now allowing providers to operate at 50 percent customer capacity was “good news”.

However, he added: “Once they can relax the mask mandate it would be even better.” Mr Minnis explained that many customers found wearing masks awkward when providers are doing facial skin care.

“The new distancing rules, and allowing people to come back into the stores, is bringing back the whole feel of going to a barber shop. This is the last place men can come and be men. The camaraderie and the kinship that happens in the barber shops and salons, you can get nowhere else,” he said.

“It’s coming back, it’s coming back. But this shutdown helped a lot, too, because a lot of us became a lot more organised on how we deal with our clientele. This has made it easier for the clients as well.”

Mr Minnis spoke out after the Prime Minister confirmed during his mid-year Budget address on Wednesday that barber shops and beauty salons can go to a 50 percent customer seating capacity.

Despite the relaxation, he added that this alone will not mean an uptick in business for barbers and beauty salons. “I don’t think it’s going to translate into a huge uptick. Because how people learned other skills, people have learned how to take care of themselves,” Mr Minnis said.

“Then there are still people who have the fear of infections. Until we get an international announcement that COVID-19 is not a threat any more, then you will find that people will probably be a little more relaxed or wouldn’t mind coming in.”

Mr Minnis still sees Bahamians as being “apprehensive” in terms of large crowds. Based on feedback from his customers, he feels the industry has some distance to go in overcoming COVID-19’s trauma.

“We don’t know what would come after the Omicron variant,” he added. “We understand that most viruses mutate themselves out of infectiveness, so once this has run its course, we got to see if another variant is going to do something else.

“It is not a matter of the regulations relaxing to any extent, but about us staying cognisant of our sanitary practices and how we strengthen our immune systems.”

The BCBA is planning an active year that includes training trips to the US for some of its members as a way to strengthen the talent pool in The Bahamas. “We want our members to become as educated as possible in cosmetology,” Mr Minnis added.


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