Hairdressers, barbers and nail bars in Northern Ireland are to reopen from Monday, July 6.

It was announced by the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister at their daily briefing on June 18 that as the virus “continues to be controlled and the number of new cases remains small”, the Executive had taken the decision to allow these businesses to reopen.

Imelda Maguire, owner of hairdressing salon Hair by Imelda Maguire in Kinawley, is looking forward to getting back to work but like many others in her position, is still waiting for government guidelines on how to reopen safely post-lockdown.

“We haven’t been given any clear guidelines and a lot of it we are just taking it on ourselves and doing what we think is best,” Imelda told this newspaper, adding: “I understand that this is the first time that this has ever happened so even the government is at a loss of how to deal with this but we’re just doing everything we can do to keep everybody safe and feel safe.”

Outlining some of the health and safety measures that she is planning to implement in her own salon, Imelda listed: “So obviously sanitising everything before and after every client, spacing out two metres apart, spacing out your appointments so that you don’t have a busy salon. Obviously we’ll be wearing our full PPE, we have visors and masks and they will be supplied for our customers as well. I don’t think it’s mandatory for our customers to wear masks but the option is there for them.”

Imelda will also be asking her clients to arrive by themselves and if they are displaying any symptoms, she is advising them to not attend their appointment.

“Just really everything that everyone else is doing,” she added.

Commenting that she can’t wait to get back to work, Imelda said: “I can’t wait to get back because you miss the craic with your customers and you miss catching up on their lives and obviously with the girls that work with me, we’re like a wee family so it’ll be lovely to be back chatting again.”

Imelda opened her appointment book as soon as the reopening date for hairdressers was announced: “I was waiting to see what kind of guidelines there was but nothing really that clear came so we’re just spacing out our appointments and obviously the two metres apart so we have to be careful that we don’t overlap appointments.”

“It’s going to be like Christmas again. When we rang people to say that we had an appointment for them, it was like we were giving the ‘cash call’, like on a radio station. I felt like I was giving them a prize because they were so happy to hear our voices, they were so excited. We got a buzz out of that, it was lovely.”