PARIS (Reuters) – No one is having their hair highlighted or nails painted right now in the Christophe Bruno salon in Paris. Still, co-owner Bruno Amaru is busy stocking up on masks and sanitizer, re-arranging chairs and disinfecting scissors and basins.
Amaru plans to reopen on May 11, the day slated for France to emerge from a coronavirus lockdown now in its seventh week.
From Europe to the Americas, businesses are scrambling to devise measures that minimise the risk of infection once economies reboot and clients return.
He has a financial imperative to be ready: “I’ve already lost 40,000 euros in two months. I’ve had to take a loan from the bank to pay the rent and make payments that I owe.”
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday said the draconian restrictions on public life had saved tens of thousands of lives but that the time had come to ease the restrictions and rescue an economy in free-fall.
But it will not be a return to business as usual.
Amaru is removing seven of the salon’s 14 posts to ensure at least 1.5 metres between clients. Half the clients means half the revenue. To help offset some of the losses, he is raising his tariffs by 5%.
The salon’s staffing will fall from five – the two owners, two freelancers and an apprentice – to three. They will all wear masks.
So too will those having their hair cut and nails polished. Anyone who refuses won’t set foot inside, Amaru said. Chairs, scissors and hair dryers will be disinfected between each cut.
Even the old copies of Paris Match and Elle magazine that filled the salon’s shelves are being thrown away.
Reservations are already piling in.
“I passed by to make an appointment,” said one lady, a regular client taking advantage of lockdown rules that allow people out to buy groceries, seek medical care, go to work or get exercise to book an early slot. “Because at the end of this lockdown, I think we’re all going to have the same problem.”
But with reduced capacity, Amaru is already booked up for a week after May 11 and expects to deal with plenty of hair in a sorry state.
“People’s roots are growing out, it’s getting urgent for my clients!” Amaru said. “They said they were ‘closing non-essential businesses’. Now we see we’re truly essential!”
Reporting by Antony Paone; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Janet Lawrence