Hairdressers call for vaccine blitz for workers as NSW Premier considers reopening salons to vaccinated customers

Sandy-Chong

Australian Hairdressing Council director and CEO and COSBOA director Sandy Chong.

Hairdressers are calling on the NSW government to undertake an industry-wide vaccination blitz ahead of any plan to reopen salons to vaccinated customers in low-risk suburbs.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the state’s health authorities are considering a plan that would see hairdressers and beauty salons reopen to vaccinated customers in suburbs across the state that have low levels of coronavirus cases.

The plan will reportedly be announced on Thursday and include hairdressers and nail salons that have been forced to close under lockdown restrictions, which have been in place since late June in Greater Sydney before they were expanded to regional NSW.

Sandy Chong is the chief executive of the Australian Hairdressing Council and the owner of Suki Hairdressing in Newcastle. She says while she would like to see hairdressers safely reopen as soon as possible, she is concerned many workers in the industry are not yet vaccinated.

“My concern for the hairdressing industry is the majority of our employees are under 35, so most of them are not vaccinated,” Chong tells SmartCompany.

Chong has requested the NSW government prioritise vaccinations for hairdressers by either undertaking an industry vaccination blitz or moving hairdressers from the tier three cohort to tier two.

“It would be great if we could have a one-day industry day where hairdressers could go out and get vaccinated,” she says.

Workers in the construction industry who live in Sydney’s nine local government areas of concern were fast-tracked for vaccinations this month, after the NSW government enforced a public health mandate that required them to be vaccinated to work.

The food services and accommodation industry has also called for an industry-wide vaccination blitz to help cafes, restaurants and hotels reopen faster and safely.

Chong says any plan to reopen the hairdressing industry to vaccinated customers and workers must address the fact that not all members of the community will choose to get vaccinated.

“The reality is that not everybody is not going to get vaccinated, so we have to understand that and have as much safety protocols in place as we can,” she says. 

“You have that percentage of anti-vaxxers but there are also others who for personal or medical reasons can’t be vaccinated at the moment,” she says.

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