South Africa and COVID-19

With South Africa in a state of partial lock-down as a means of trying to contain the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, announced on 18 March that the number of confirmed cases has reached 116.

 

Globally, there are now 184 976 confirmed cases if COVID-19, and 7 529 deaths. The virus has spread to 159 countries/territories.

 

In South Africa, 14 of the 116 cases are due to local transmission, with the remaining cases being people who had travelled abroad and whose itinerary included countries such as Italy, UK, USA, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Finland, Austria, Dubai, New Zealand and Ethiopia.

 

There are 16 new cases in Gauteng; three new cases in KwaZulu-Natal; two new cases in Mpumalanga; and 10 new cases in the Western Cape. (All the above statistics were sourced from the South African Government News Agency https://www.sanews.gov.za/)

 

On 15 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, a national disaster, and banned gatherings of more than 100 people. For more government information regarding COVID-19 click here https://www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/coronavirus-101

 

COVID-19 is obviously an enormous and alarming concern for all citizens and businesses around the world and it particularly affects the beauty and hair sectors, as these industries involve human touch, close proximity between therapists and clients, as well as air conditioned environments. In addition, governments around the world are encouraging ‘social distancing’ and dissuading non-essential contact between citizens, which could well lead to clients cancelling appointments.

 

Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air. Thus stringent attention must be paid in the beauty environment to hygiene and sanitizing therapists’ hands, equipment, tools, towels, garments, work surfaces, chairs, beds, and door and cupboard handles. Some beauty businesses are encouraging clients to sanitize their hands on entry into their premises and are scheduling breaks between appointments to clear the air. Therapists are, at some salons and spas, being encouraged to wear masks during treatments. When clients phone in to book for appointments, it is advisable to ask whether they have recently travelled to infected or high risk countries and, if so, to kindly postpone their appointment for at least two weeks (this is believed to be the incubation period of COVID-19). If you have the facilities, you might also consider separate waiting areas for clients.

 

Symptoms that spas, salons and aesthetic medicine clinics should look out for in staff and clients are flu-like, specifically a dry cough and shortness of breath.

 

Industry professional and recruiter, Miranda Forrester, offers the following advice: “My suggestion would be to assure all your clients via social media of all the protocols and procedures in place to ensure safety and hygiene, etc.

 

“This is also a good time to focus on training in house and upskilling. Or, you can use this opportunity to deep clean the salon to make sure it is squeaky clean. You can also do stock takes.

 

“Take some time to have more in-depth staff meetings about the way forward and each employee’s aspirations and goals for the next term. Remember that we went from economic crisis last year and straight into busy season only to be bombed with the next crisis. There was no time to reflect and to project for the future.”

 

Professional Beauty has created a COVID-19 page on its website

(www.probeauty.co.za/covid-19) with links to a wealth of useful information from numerous sources.

 

We remind the industry that however severely alarming this pandemic currently is, that it is temporary. At some stage, hopefully in the not too distant future, it will pass and we can get back to normal life and business.

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