Melbourne beauty salons have lost 80 to 95 per cent of their income in sweeping devastation to the sector since the COVID-19 pandemic started, industry experts say.
Salon owners are now pleading with the Victorian government to reopen from Sunday, saying changes are needed “for the sake of all of our wellbeing”.
“We understood when we were asked to close down on the 25th of March, however to still be closed down is now destroying the lives of over 45,000 team members – it is obliterating our industry,” Australian Hair and Beauty Association board member Sia Psicharis said.
“We have been hearing from skin clinics and beauty salons around Melbourne with 80 to 95 per cent loss of income since March.
“We have lost salons owners to suicide in Melbourne, business owners and team members have been medicated for anxiety and two salon owners have had anxiety attacks after the extended lockdown was announced which resulted to miscarriage.
“We can’t live like this anymore.”
The director of Beautyologist in St Kilda questioned why allied health professionals such as dentists and cosmetic nurses could operate, but not beauty professionals.
“I can have a massage without a mask with my allied massage therapist, but I can’t do a skin treatment on a client when I have completed the exact same anatomy and physiology and infectious control component at school,” Ms Psicharis said.
Nancy Abdou who provides beauty training, including infection control to salon owners and beauty professionals, said the industry had been “undermined and overlooked”.
“We haven’t been able to treat our clients and our services have been taken over by other practitioners who are allowed to operate, so we’ve all actually lost revenue permanently,” she said.
“We want equality and we want to reopen completely. Let us open with strict COVID-safe plans like our cosmetic nurses and other colleagues among our industry.”
State Liberal MP for Eastern Metropolitan Region Matthew Bach raised the contentious issue in parliament on Wednesday afternoon.
He questioned Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula why beauty professionals could not operate under COVID-safe plans.
“In my electorate, you can get a facelift, but not a treatment for painful skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. This is madness,” Mr Bach said.
“Almost a month ago, I sought any and all public health advice that supports the decimation of the beauty industry.
“The government’s refusal to even respond to me shows the contempt it has for the 45,000 Victorian women who work in this vital industry.”
While the Premier acknowledged clear signs Melbourne’s coronavirus numbers were falling, Daniel Andrews on Wednesday said it was still too early to make a call on what restrictions would be eased this weekend.
The Department of Health and Human Services has been contacted for comment.