Hairdressers warn reopening exclusively for vaccinated clients would put them in awkward position – ABC News

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By Mark Reddie
Hairdresser Jaye Edwards has warned the NSW government against using the industry as a political football following speculation salons would be the first businesses to reopen exclusively for the fully vaccinated next month.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has previously flagged new freedoms from September for those who have had their two jabs, with her crisis Cabinet meeting yesterday to consider giving the green light for hairdressers to reopen.
NSW yesterday recorded 919 new COVID cases but Ms Berejiklian said vaccination rates continued to be the most important number when it came to easing restrictions.
Although it now appears less likely salons will be be given the all clear, hairdressers are worried about the profitability of their businesses when doors do swing open again.
Mr Edwards, owner of Edwards & Co salons, said he would be "super excited" to reopen, but he had reservations about requiring staff and clients to be vaccinated. 
"I think we have been kicked around the football field for months now — we have lost so much money, then to put us back in the fighting field and leave it up to us is not fair," Mr Edwards said.
Mr Edwards — who employs 150 staff across eight salons in NSW, Victoria and Queensland — said about 60 per cent of his staff were fully vaccinated.
"I am not going to force them to do it if they don't want to. I believe in choice and people making informed decisions themselves, so it's really up to them," he said.
"I would be super excited to reopen — what I don't want to happen is for the government to make us choose if people can come back if they are vaccinated because it puts us in an awkward position."
Mr Edwards has been inundated with calls from clients, asking if they had to be vaccinated to book future appointments.
"If the government mandates a vaccine, then the reopening of salons is definitely premature," he said.
The Australian Hairdressing Council has surveyed 500 hairdressers and found 99 per cent of them had not been vaccinated.
"The majority of the industry is under the age of 39, so until recently, they haven't been eligible to book an appointment," CEO Sandy Chong said.
"There is a small percentage who don't want to get vaccinated and we have to understand that some can't be vaccinated, whether it's medical or personal reasons.
"Unfortunately, it has to be pro-choice — I don't think you can make people get vaccinated."
Ilija Makowski opened Chuffed Barbers in Western Sydney three years ago and believes making reopening conditional on vaccinations would put hairdressers in a difficult position.
"Here in Parramatta, only 30 per cent of people are vaccinated, so say less than 30 per cent of my clients — it's not really feasible to open my doors, pay my staff full-time wages, and start paying full rent properly again," he said.
Mr Makowski employs two other barbers and is concerned about them feeling pressured to get vaccinated.
"One of them says 'If I have to get vaccinated to go back to work, I will', but he doesn't want to — the government is putting people… into corners," he said.
 Mr Makowski said a vaccinated-only policy would be difficult and expensive to enforce. 
"I am going to have to maybe employ someone else to be able to look after appointments online, on the phone, checking if clients are vaccinated," he said.
"The last thing we want is people booking online, not having the vaccination, coming in, and then I have to turn them away and lose money."
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