The Government of Pakistan should provide the beauty industry with specific guidelines as to when they can expect to continue operations, else they face the risk of permanent closure.
ince the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March this year and the ever-shifting government policies that ensued from it, to say that businesses have had a tough storm to weather is an understatement. Governments around the globe seem to be stuck in a balancing act (especially the instance Pakistan’s epic battle of the provinces), where their only options come down to either prioritising the public health of their population or an economic recession. In between these heavy scales, dealing with service-based industries and businesses becomes uniquely challenging.
Following a government notice received on the 19th of March 2020, salons in Sindh had to shut their doors to all customers and clients and halt operations until further notice; this was done to safeguard the health of all staff and clients and to flatten the curve in the fight against COVID-19.
Amongst the difficulties faced during this time, service-based industries such as gymnasiums, cinemas and beauty salons have taken a huge financial hit. Even the largest of businessmen or financial analysts could not have contemplated running a business where next to no income is being earned. One positive thing is that people have been quick and innovative in adjusting; gyms are now hosting online classes based on subscription memberships and cinemas are streaming online, but to a salon business - where the service itself is dependent upon human contact - this occurrence has been absolutely devastating. The job description itself includes standing close to clients, and general close physical contact. Beauty professionals in this case are faced with two obstacles, a potential threat to their health as well as to their livelihoods.
Many businesses will perhaps not survive this; the biggest concern at the moment is providing for one’s employees while generating next to no revenue. Along with the stream of client bookings and walk-in appointments, events, film and television production shoots, live shows and magazine editorials, have been cancelled or rescheduled until further notice. Salon owners may endure this temporarily if they delve into their savings, provided they are of an adequate amount, and some may even continue to provide wages at a personal loss. However, there is only so long this can be sustained. There is then the heavy weight of responsibility upon the employer; how are you to abandon someone and render them jobless in a market with absolutely zero opportunities?
This is not to say that salons should not abide by government instructions outlining the importance of social distancing. However, the Government of Pakistan’s policy in terms of lockdown measures have arguably made it harder for businesses to cope in Pakistan. While we are now beginning to see many countries that imposed stringent lockdowns early during the spread of the virus, such as Sri Lanka & New Zealand, successfully flatten the curve, Pakistan is falling victim to this virus to a far worse extent because of loose and unenforced lockdown measures implemented by each respective provincial government.
With this in mind, it begs the question as to how a service-based industry should cope with this in the long run. The onus now lies on the government to provide such industries with specific guidelines as to when they can expect to continue operations, else they face the risk of permanent closure. Furthermore, acknowledging that the nature of work in the beauty industry is of high-risk in light of this virus, the government cannot afford to impose blanket Standard Operating Procedures for all types of businesses. There should be a set standard, beyond which protocols and procedures should be industry-specific.