Mumbai lockdown: Salon, beauty parlour owners to protest today against ban

Updated: Jun 19, 2020, 17:56 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Association says industry's 10-lakh strong workforce has been living hand to mouth; questions government move to disallow them from opening while other states have opened

Sachin Takke runs two salons in Dahisar and is at his wits' end
Sachin Takke runs two salons in Dahisar and is at his wits' end

Mumbai's salon and beauty parlour owners will be seen sporting black bands on their arms and sitting outside their establishments in protest against the government's move to not allow them to resume work as part of Mission Begin Again. The business owners say they have suffered a lot in the over two months of lockdown and can't afford any more losses.

Prakash Chavhan, secretary of the Mumbai chapter of Salon & Beauty Parlour Association of India said, "It is high time that the government allowed us to work. Lakhs of salon- and parlour-owners have suffered during the lockdown. It's disheartening to see everyone resuming business while we can't. We don't have big savings or huge deposits to fight with such losses. The government must consider allowing us to reopen, otherwise, we have no option but to protest."

Santosh Mohite
Santosh Mohite

If the government fails to allow them to resume work, the association's members have threatened to defy orders and open anyway from June 15. If action is taken against them, they will resort to a jail bharo agitation.

According to the association, Mumbai has more than 10 lakh barbers or hairstylists who have had zero income since the lockdown started. Many states have allowed salons and parlours to reopen with certain rules and regulations. The association has already indicated that business owners will have to increase their rates as they have to follow sanitisation measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A roadside barber gave a man a shave in Mazgaon amid the lockdown in April. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
A roadside barber gave a man a shave in Mazgaon amid the lockdown in April. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

'Spent life's savings'
Santosh Mohite runs a small salon with two seats in Jai Hind Nagar, Mankhurd. "I am a barber. After working for almost a decade in other salons, I managed to rent a small shop for R3,000. Now, my income is zero. My employee has gone to his native place and I don't think he will return. I am running into debt," Mohite said. He visits various localities to do haircuts and earn a living.

Mahesh Pawar has been running a salon in Tagore Nagar No. 1, Vikhroli East for 30 years. "All my life's savings got used up in the lockdown. I paid my two workers for March. Then one of them went home and does not want to return. We are ready to comply with all sanitisation measures. The government should recognise that this industry is crucial and lakhs of people depend on it. We have no option but to protest," said Pawar.

Neha Thakkar
Neha Thakkar

Sachin Takke, runs two salons and beauty parlours in Dahisar. "Every industry is trying to resume work. We are ready to even wear PPE suits, do thermal checks, keep a record of every customer. If this closure continues, I will be bankrupt. Despite zero income, many of us paid our workers at least 50 per cent of the wages. But for how long can we continue like this? We are not a brand, nor do we have franchises. We can't survive even a 10-day closure," Takke said.

Bandhu Chavhan, a hair stylist said, "During the lockdown, whoever could afford them, bought trimmers to avoid going to the barber. This is going to impact the industry for the next three to six months. The fear of infection, owing to the close contact with customers, will give us a tough time. I am not sure how and when things will normalise."

"Salons and barber shops have been hit hard with no scope of social distancing and no work from home options. There is no business and no income and no indication of when it will open.

"This has lead to many job losses and salary cuts making it difficult to sustain until things come back to normal. Salons will have to incur high cost in maintaining highest levels of hygiene, further leading to increase in the cost of service. Big chains of salons can still manage but it will be difficult for small beauty parlours," said Neha Thakkar, associate-salon industry.

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