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‘Where do we go from here?’

RYAN Hickinson spoke with emotion, anger and exasperation as he opened up about his worries for the future of his hairdressing salon in Newtownstewart, following the government announcement that hairdressers and barbers must close today (Friday) for four weeks.

In another bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, new partial lockdown restrictions revealed by Arlene Foster state that ‘close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians are not permitted to open, apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics’.

But for self-employed hairdressers like Ryan, this move could spark the beginning of the end of his business, ‘Ryan Hickinson Hairdressing’, which has been in operation for three
years.

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“Apparently we have to close with absolutely no warning,” he said. “How am I going to pay my staff’s wages, when the business isn’t making anything? How am I supposed to pay my rent?

“We have been given no guidance, and there is seemingly no help for us either.

“All of the savings we had were used during the first lockdown. As a self-employed hairdresser, this is a terrifying time. I don’t know what to do.”

To add to Ryan’s frustrations, his award-winning business had already purchased all necessary PPE equipment, and screens, and employs strict social-distancing measures.

Echoing these sentiments, Tony McMenamin, who works at Snips on Omagh’s High Street, said he has ‘never experienced a situation like this’ in his business’s 37-year history.

“The guidelines are unclear, so we are up in the air about what we have to do,” he admitted. “We’ll close if we have to close, but we are awaiting clarification of the rules.

“At the moment, myself and my work colleague are wearing masks, and only permit two clients into the shop at the one time.

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“We are also operating on an appointment-only basis.

“We’ve lost customers and gained customers; these are extremely uncertain times for all of us.”

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