A message from the NZARH Chair – Niq James

A message from the NZARH Chair

Now that we are back at work in level 2 it is important that we follow the Mantra for level 2 and “Play it Safe”.

We need to stay vigilant in our cleaning and sanitizing of our salons and barbershops. Our industry cannot risk a move back to level 3 – this would mean the closure of many businesses. We need to operate safely at level 2 and maintain the gains we have made. This is imperative to help raise the professionalism of our industry as a whole. Remember the eyes of the public are on us!

So far the feedback NZARH has had has been largely positive, with members of the public commending us for taking their health and safety seriously. We have also observed a number of people surprised that some businesses have carried on ‘business as usual’ with little change; including no contact tracing or social distancing between customers. These businesses risk minimising your efforts and tarnishing the professional reputation of our industry let alone the health of their clients and wider communities.

Questions we have been asked the most are focussed on the requirements for PPE. The Government have changed the requirements for PPE three or more times since the need for it in our industry was first announced by the Prime Minister on 7th May. At present the official line is that hairdressing and similar workers “ are not required to wear PPE such as masks, we expect however that many workers and  customers may want hairdressers and other similar workers to wear masks as we move through alert level 2.”

NZARH has always, and always will take the health and safety of it’s members, their teams and clients extremely seriously and recommendations will always err on the side of caution. Currently as of today (24/05/2020) the Ministry of Health website guidelines (updated 15/05/2020) suggest  “a face mask or face shield should be considered as an additional measure to basic hygiene measures” for hairdressers or beauticians. This is in line with the NZARH recommendation to it’s members and wider hair and barber audience of wearing appropriate PPE gear (face mask etc) to protect you and your client whilst performing hairdressing services in the interest of public health and safety.

On 13th May the Director General of Health, Dr Bloomfield acknowledged the work that NZARH had done in releasing the guidelines for the hair industry and suggested NZARH had offered “clear expectations” around PPE gear. The most important thing is a mask if they (Hairdressers) want to wear it.


(source: https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/news-items/covid-19-media-update-13-may)

Media: [Inaudible] move into level 2 tomorrow, what PPE gear do hairdressers have to wear, and can they operate without it? 

Dr Ashley Bloomfield: So I know that the hairdressing association or their peak body has put out guidance with quite clear expectations around what they will wear. Our infection prevention and control experts have said that the most important thing, if they want to wear it, is a mask, and that is because they are repeatedly within the metre, and seeing a number of clients on a day. However, I think the important thing here is for hairdressers, beauticians, and, indeed, everybody, schools, whatever the setting—the key thing here is we did not give the advice to move to alert level 2 before we knew we had got on top of the virus and the risk of it being out there was very, very low. So the advice—again, the infection prevention and control expert’s advice to everybody around use of PPE, whether in the healthcare setting or non-healthcare setting or to the general public, is very much predicated on the situation we find ourselves in, which is quite different from other countries who have relaxed their measures. 

Media: Can they open if they don’t wear it? 

Dr Ashley Bloomfield: Sorry? 

Media: Could they open if they don’t wear it? 

Dr Ashley Bloomfield: Yes, they could if they wanted to. Our advice is that they can; it’s optional. But their advice from their association, and my understanding is this is what they’re gearing up to, is to have masks and so on available. So, I think, you know, that’s good that their peak body has provided that advice to them, and that is partly also about them making sure they are feeling safe as we go down to alert level 2. 

The health and safety of our members and their teams, industry and clients is of paramount importance to NZARH, thus we will continue to provide updates on our recommendations based on the MOH guidelines, our international contacts and our Corporate Supporters.

International standards in countries including France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom

Require both worker and customer to wear a mask when in the salon or barbershop.

NZARH Leaders and Corporate Supporters agree that it is important to know what the Government requirements are but also for individuals to make decisions based on what is required for your business, your team and your clients. It is important for employers to have open conversations with their staff to make sure they feel safe in the workplace, that they have access to PPE if they need it and that they have the knowledge of how to use the PPE.

As New Zealand moves further into level 2 we need to look wider than our own businesses to see what is happening that could affect our industry. From our current research, the next challenge New Zealanders could face I the possibility of a second spike, this has occurred in other countries and we need to be ready should this happens here. There is also suggestion that the Carona virus thrives in cooler periods and in areas where a large number of people gather in close contact. We are heading into winter and this is perfect condition for coronavirus and other influenza viruses. As New Zealand looks to re-open our boarders in the future, this also will increase the chances that we could have another Covid-19 outbreak. If there is another increase in Covid19 cases, it is unlikely that the government would send the nation back into a level 3 lockdown. Instead our industry would more likely have to increase our H&S procedures to operate safely at level 3.

Where to from here?

NZARH cannot enforce the guidelines onto the hair industry as they are, as the name suggests, guidelines only, however NZARH strongly urge that industry takes them seriously, and, as a whole work in a united manner to follow them to achieve industry wide best practice. Whilst in level 2 within New Zealand, we continue to recommend wearing masks for clients and staff for the full 14 days of the transmission cycle (cycle ending 28 May). If the reported numbers are still low, we could transition to recommending masks for appointments lasting over 30mins for both staff and clients (e.g. men’s and children’s cuts would not require the client to wear a mask as the client contact with face fronting would be minimal).

Our recommendation for longer appointments such as colour work etc. would still be to wear a mask/face covering by both client and stylist.

Again this would be monitored over the 14 day period and extra recommendations made accordingly, with the end of PPE wearing projected to be the 11th June or when Level 1 is announced.

NZARH recommends watching our updates and also being aware of government announcements on the official Covid-19 website.

NZARH will be continuing to provide live Q&A sessions announced on our social media channels as more information comes to hand.

Niq James