Miranda hair salon closes its doors over coronavirus fears

Health fears: Hairdresser Brooke Lebreau has been forced to temporarily close the doors of her salon, B. Hair Collective. Picture: Chris Lane
Health fears: Hairdresser Brooke Lebreau has been forced to temporarily close the doors of her salon, B. Hair Collective. Picture: Chris Lane

For Brooke Lebreux, confusion over the federal government's rules regarding social distancing and time limits around hairdressing coupled with fears for the safety of herself, her staff and their families has led her to shut the doors of her salon.

For Mrs Lebreux, who opened her Miranda salon B. Hair Collective in 2018 after owning a successful salon in Cronulla for 10 years, the decision was heartbreaking, but she said she had no other choice.

"We have closed," she said.

Mrs Lebreux had already introduced more stringent hygiene practices, followed by social distancing measures, which required her to halve the number of clients in the salon, before the government sounded its death knell, introducing a 30-minute time limit on appointments, then overturning the decision.

"On the Tuesday night when they set the 30-minute limit, we just had to cancel appointments because we can't do anything in 30 minutes," she said.

"So I worked until midnight on Wednesday doing colours before they changes came in, but then they pulled it back."

Mrs Lebreux, whose busy salon is sought after for colour consultations, had already cancelled most clients before the government backflip.

She agreed to reinstate a few clients after requests, before ultimately deciding the health of herself and her staff was more important and closed the doors last Friday, although she will continue some retail sales.

She hopes to reopen the salon in the future if she can ride out this time, and has been heartened by the support of her landlord, who agreed to waive her rent for one month and possibly longer.

"I have had to stand down all my staff temporarily so I have had to pay out all their holiday pay in one go without any money coming in," she said.

Mrs Lebreux said she had worked tirelessly for weeks to follow new guidelines, which included disinfecting all areas a client had been and adding hand sanitiser stations.

But she said it was impossible for hairdressers to keep a safe distance from clients.

"We are in close contact with the client. We have to stand right in front of them. We are touching them," she said, adding she was concerned that if she became infected with coronavirus she would pass it on to her young children.

She believes hairdressing salons are not essential services.

"They should all be closed," Mrs Lebreux said.

"All my friends in the industry believe we should be closed."

She also fears failure to force a shut down of hairdressing will lead to more mobile and in-home services, which could in turn result in more infections.

Denis McFadden, the chief executive of the largest hairdressing chain in the country, Just Cuts, which has salons at Miranda, Sylvania and Rockdale, has also called for the industry to be shut down.