Headhunters Barber Shop and Railway Museum in Enniskillen’s Darling Street is back on track next Tuesday after having to close during the three-month coronavirus lockdown.

For brothers Nigel and Gordon Johnston, it has been the longest break they have ever taken in their 40-year career and they are looking forward to getting back to work. However, it will be very different.

As per government guidelines, there will be social distancing in place, limited numbers of customers permitted in the salon at one time, hand sanitising, sneeze guards, sterilisation of equipment, contactless payment, and a frequent cleaning schedule.

“For self-employed people in particular it has been challenging to get used to not working when you are fit and healthy to do so. Barbering is all about the relationship with the client, which often takes on the role of a friend which you check in with several times a year over a lifetime,” Nigel told The Impartial Reporter.

“In the case of Headhunters with a barber shop combined with a railway museum, there is the added surprise of not really knowing who is going to pop in next and what part of the world they are from,” he said.

He added: “It has been strange visiting an empty salon and lifeless street over the past three months to check your premises and wonder when you will be allowed to reopen and what form it will take to ensure everyone is kept safe.”

For years, the Johnstons along with other brother Selwyn, have been associated with saving Fermanagh's railway heritage and now they are working to save the traditional barbers.

“When you are walking up the street it's lovely to hear how much you have been missed, including clients sharing experiences of their attempts at home lock-down haircuts, the novelty of growing their hair long and how they can't wait to get back to normality.

“Hopefully our loyal clients will continue to support us as we look forward to brighter days ahead when everyone can enjoy the full traditional barbering experience without the requirement for all the restrictions which are necessary at this time,” he said.

Since the Government announcement that hairdressers can reopen from next week, Nigel says they have been inundated with emails, messages, and phone calls from customers.

“Inevitably a visit to the barbers will now be a little different due to the current restriction,” explained Gordon.

“We have completed a comprehensive risk assessment to ensure our salon complies with all the latest government guidance including the advice we have received from the Environmental Health Department at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and various Professional Barbering Associations,” he said.

Both Nigel and Gordon will be wearing a full face shield however in line with government guidance it will be optional for customers to wear a face covering.

“While some hairdressing salons have moved entirely to appointment only we hope the tradition of walk in’s can continue in a controlled way with the help of a traffic light system and two clients called forward at a time, from the entrance area, to the salon and exiting via a one way system in line with social distancing,” explained Gordon.