Syazwani Hj Rosli
In the period of social distancing, barber shops, beauty salons and massage parlours are struggling to stay afloat, with customers preferring to stay away amid concerns over unsafe contact.
According to an owner of a spa, their business was already experiencing a drop since mid-January, even before the first case was confirmed in Brunei.
“We decided to temporarily close our spa about a week ago because we were worried about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country,” she told the Bulletin.
Regarding Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar’s statement on the issue of mutual trust between customers and service providers such as barbers and beauticians, she said, “We will be discreet about re-opening, starting with our regular clients, while adopting necessary precautions.
“Insya Allah we will continue to adhere to the guidelines and advice given by the government. In the meantime, we still need to pay our rent, our employees’ salaries and the start-up loan. We know that everyone is also going through the same hardships and uncertainties.”
Ili Aiman, who jointly runs a home-based waxing service with her husband, said, “I used to get an average of 21-25 clients per week, but now, they have dropped to only 10-15 per week.”
She still manages her business from home, but prior to appointments, she asks the clients whether they have the flu.
“If they are sick, then I reschedule the appointment to another date, at their convenience,” she said.
To ensure the cleanliness of her working space, Ili conducts a thorough disinfection of her utensils, toilets, floors and other surfaces. She also encourages her customers to shower before the waxing sessions. Business is one thing, and health and safety is another. “Necessary measures have to be observed, in view of what’s taking place in this country right now,” she added.
Owner of a beauty studio, Hajah Roskhalilah revealed that they were forced to cancel plans for beauty courses for young girls over the school holidays, out of concern for the wellbeing of clients and staff.
“As a back-up plan, we conducted a photo contest on social media, where the photo with the highest likes will receive a prize. Right now, I often remind my staff and myself to practise safety and hygiene, and we’ve stepped up our cleaning routine at the salon,” she said.
An employee at a barbershop in Kampong Mentiri said, “We barbers work on a commission-based pay. Basically, we get paid per haircut. If we have no customers, then we will get nothing.
“Now, we resorted to house calls, with a few added charges. We have done this before, so this isn’t something new. We are just pleased that there is a demand for it, so that at least we can still make a living out of it.”