- September 15, 2021
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Hairdresser Lea-Ann Suthern says she is not convinced her industry should be used as a test case by the NSW government when it eases some restrictions for fully vaccinated people.
“We are the wrong industry to open up and be the guinea pigs because we cannot social distance in our job,” Ms Suthern, who owns the Toni & Guy salon in Newtown, in Sydney’s inner west, said.
Lea-Ann Suthern, owner of Toni and Guy in Newtown. Credit:James Brickwood
“People spend a minimum of an hour to up to three hours [having a cut] in close contact doing all the things you aren’t supposed to do in regard to COVID. If they close Bunnings to click and collect, then why is a hairdressing salon open?”
Services such as hairdressers are set to be among the first to reopen in Sydney suburbs outside the worst-affected local government areas, providing an incentive for businesses and their customers to get vaccinated.
Earlier this month, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “if someone providing a service is vaccinated and their client is vaccinated, we will feel much more comfortable” allowing that business to reopen after August 28.
Ms Suthern said she is vaccinated, but her staff are not.
“How are we going to know that a person is vaccinated? I am not qualified to check. [If we get a case] my clientele would go down the street. A business and industry like ours needs to open when we are safe,” she said.
“I am fully vaccinated but all my four staff are in the 16 to under 39 age bracket and so while they have been trying to get vaccinated, they just can’t. Some of them have an appointment for mid-September and that’s only dose one.”
The Australian Hairdressing Council said many of those working in the industry were young and had not had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“If you opened up the industry and said only those that have been vaccinated can go to work others will say I am going to go anyway,” the council’s chief executive, Sandy Chong, said.
“I don’t think you can dictate who gets to go and who doesn’t. Some will say I have been closed for most of the last 18 months and I will open regardless. I don’t think you could police that, and I don’t think it would be fair on the industry either.”
Chris Lamont, the Small Business Commissioner, said there were vacancies available for individuals, including hairdressers, to get vaccinated, with more than 100 NSW Health vaccination clinics across the state.
“The sooner workers and the community get vaccinated the sooner small businesses will be able to reopen,” he said. “I acknowledge that it can be difficult for hairdressers to social distance … It is therefore particularly important for them to get vaccinated so when restrictions are lifted they can get back to work.”
On Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian said in reaching six million jabs across the state she will consult her team to announce any possible easing of restrictions for the fully vaccinated later this week.
NSW Health said it had nothing to add to the Premier’s comments made earlier.
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