Australia

Melbourne hairdresser flouts rules, hit with $10k fine

The owner of a barbershop in Melbourne opened up her business to customers yesterday and even gave out a few haircuts before police arrived. She cited near bankruptcy as her reason for defying the city’s strict Stage 4 coronavirus lockdown, but was soon more out of pocket than she was to begin with after police…

The owner of a barbershop in Melbourne opened up her business to customers yesterday and even gave out a few haircuts before police arrived.

She cited near bankruptcy as her reason for defying the city’s strict Stage 4 coronavirus lockdown, but was soon more out of pocket than she was to begin with after police issued her with a $9,913 fine.

Jomana Najem, the owner of Adam and Weave Barber shop in Hughesdale, Melbourne, documented the forced closure of her store on a Facebook live video.

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A day earlier, Ms Najem announced to her loyal customers over Facebook that she was reopening her doors to them.

“Tomorrow our doors will be reopened, we have decided that we can no longer continue to suffer in silence. We have no choice but to open our doors tomorrow,” she wrote.

“If we don’t work we can’t pay our rent, we can’t do anything, and this is a new business,” she said.”

She described how her small business was struggling and how she would “go broke” if the salon remained shut for any longer.

On Saturday, the newly-opened hairdressing salon had an impressive turnout; some customers came in to get their hair cut and Ms Najem said the phone was “going off the hook”.

Police very quickly arrived at the scene.

“We have the police outside,” Ms Najem said, filming the rows of police lining up along Poath Road.

“Sorry, all my makeup’s gone because I’ve been crying.

“We’ve actually been forced to close down. Someone from DHS (The Department of Human Services) has come to give us a prohibition notice.”

She panned around to show police on either side of the salon as well as being across the road.

“The bus has rocked up,” she said, in reference to the anti-lockdown bus that came in solidarity to support her show of defiance.

The bus has become a symbol of discontent towards the state government’s management of the pandemic.

In a statement, Victoria police confirmed the salon had been fined for breaching the Stage 4 rules.

“Victoria Police understands the difficulties facing many businesses at the moment and made every effort to see today’s matter resolved without the need for a fine to be issued,” a spokesperson said.

“However, after repeated warnings and consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services the business owner was issued a fine for $9,913.”

Many people supported Ms Najem’s decision to open her shop in the middle of the pandemic, with mostly positive comments appearing on the live video.

“Thank you for having the strength and courage to stand up for what is fair and reasonable. Hopefully many will follow in your footsteps,” one person commented.

“My new favourite barber shop. Keep it up,” said another.

However, others were not sympathetic to her plight.

“Imagine if you waited for the announcements, patience is a virtue,” said one woman.

“You are such a drama queen, can you just chill,” said another.

Ms Najem also made reference to “all the haters” she was getting.

However, despite the $10,000 fine and the hate, Ms Najem is planning to openly defy the government again.

She has instructed her customers to keep coming back to the store from Tuesday onwards.

“Guys you are all incredible, there are still so many of your messages I haven‘t been able to respond to you yet, so please if you need a mens or kids cut no appointment needed, come in during opening hours, although I would recommend you hold off until Sunday and Monday,” she said in a post.

“For colour and extensions, we can take bookings from Monday onwards, so call us tomorrow or message for all other services and we will get you in.

“THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT I WANT TO CRY FROM ALL THE LOVE THAT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO US – MIGHT JUST BE WORTH $10,000.”

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.