FOLLOWING the new Coronavirus restrictions that were announced last week, close-contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauticians reopened their doors last Friday, November 20 – only to have to close them again tomorrow, Friday, November 27 for another two weeks.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter about the impact of the new restrictions on his business, barber Steve Gray. the owner of Barber Boulevard in Ballinamallard, said: “Technically, last week I thought I was going to be able to open and get a good run for Christmas because, like many small businesses, we’re sort of banking on the Christmas rush to pull us through but, unfortunately, we’ve been robbed of that.

“We’ve been told that we’ll potentially be getting back on December 11 for the final two weeks but, again, there’s no guarantee of that, so for all we know it could be January, which again is upsetting,” he added.

Steve explained that in his barber shop he runs a booking system so his clients have their specific slots in which to attend.

“So even if I do get back before Christmas, obviously, I’m booked up anyway, so there’s still a month’s-worth of people there that haven’t been sorted.

“We’re relying on them to stay loyal and hold out until January when we get open again. We just hope that they haven’t gone elsewhere because, obviously, then you get a huge loss of clientele,” he said.

To make the most of the week that he has been allowed to open, Steve has been working extra hours to keep up with demand.

“This week, I worked on Sunday until midnight, and then on Monday to about 10.30pm.

“It was 11.30pm on Tuesday that I got away,” said Steve, speaking to this newspaper yesterday, Wednesday.

He believes his hours will be much the same for the rest of this week before he has to close again on Friday.

“The phone doesn’t stop, either. I have a man in here helping me, and he’s basically covering the phones,” he added.

As a new business owner, having only opened his Ballinamallard premises in January, Steve says he hasn’t really been able to “get a good run at it” due to the pandemic.

“I’ll be open coming up to a year now, and I’ve been operating for only eight months of that year, so essentially it’s as if, come January, I’m just starting up for the first time again. It’s been a real hit.”