THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While people across various service sectors hope for their prospects to improve once the lockdown is lifted, a section of them is uncertain whether the only skill they know will assure them continued livelihood. Barbers and the beauticians are among those who expect their business to be badly hit even after the current restrictions are eased. The reason: Salons and barbershops are widely seen as hotspots of coronavirus infection.
Suresh had downed the shutter of his salon-cum-beauty parlour in the state capital in mid-March. For the past one-and-a-half months, he is left with no income. When the state government recently allowed barbershops to open with curbs, he was hopeful of regaining his livelihood. But after the Union government tightened restrictions, the state rolled back its earlier order.
“There were a few customers who used to call me after the lockdown. I used to go to their homes for haircut. Recently, there was an incident in Kannur where a barber who went to an infected person’s house was suspected of transmitting the disease to many others. After that, people have stopped calling me,” said Suresh.Nisha, who runs a beauty parlour in Thrissur, is facing another issue. The landlord has been demanding rent for the parlour and has threatened her with eviction.
“My husband is stranded in the Gulf and I am left with two little children. My parents or in-laws cannot travel to my place due to lockdown. The landlord fully knows my situation and shows no mercy,” she said. According to Aryanad Mohanan, working president of Kerala Beauticians’ Association affiliated to CITU, members are finding it tough to survive during the grim situation.
There are over 1.5 lakh beauty parlours and salons in the state and if barbershops too are taken into account, the number would be much higher. “Despite the government stating that relaxation should be given on collection of rent, landlords continue to harass women who run majority of the beauty parlours. Afraid of the consequences, many do not approach the police,” he said.
According to him, the situation is not expected to improve even after the lockdown due to the social stigma associated with salons and beauty parlours. He fears many may lose their livelihood and the sector itself would take a major hit.“Though the government has announced assistance of `1,000 from the welfare fund board, it is too inadequate. What we need at this juncture is interest-free loans so that people in the sector can tide over the crisis,” he said.