Babers stage protest in Dadar
Babers stage protest in Dadar
Bhushan Koyande

Even as salons and parlours have opened their doors for operation since June 28 as part of Mission Begin Again, it barely brought any relief with regards to their business. Seeking an economic relief package from the Government of India, members of an umbrella association (comprising barbers, beauticians and salon workers) Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council staged a demonstration on Wednesday afternoon outside the Dadar railway station.

Eversince the lockdown was imposed in March, salons and parlours were shut, causing a huge economic loss to those employed in this sector. With this in mind, the association has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, stating there has been a severe increase in expenditure; however, their revenue is almost nil.

"The expenditure in our industry has increased, while there is barely any income. A relief package from the government is the only solution to get rid of the mass economic crisis," stated the letter.

Hairdresser Amin Sheikh (36) has been in the business for the past twelve years. The news of the state government allowing salons and parlours to resume operation left him happy, knowing it would put an end to his family's financial distress. However, things didn't work as per his plan.

It has been more than three weeks, but there has been barely any business for him.

"We thought that the opening of the salons would help us get rid of the financial burden. However, the footfall of customers is very low. Even though we are open and taking precautionary measures, people are not dropping by," stated Sheikh.

He mentioned, during the first few days, there was a decent footfall, which gave them hope. However, as the days passed, the footfall fell.

"As most cases are being detected in residential buildings now, people are more scared to leave their homes. This is causing us a huge problem," Sheikh told.

Though the salary barbers earn is low, it didn't make any difference to the operation cost. "No matter how much we earn, we need to pay the rent of our shops. In case we fail to do so, we will have to vacate the premises," stated Moeen Iqbal, another barber. "During the pandemic, landlords and shop owners charged us half the rent. However, now that the business has

started in full swing, they are not ready to give us any more consideration," he added.

Many workers, hailing from the north Indian belt, returned back to their hometown amidst the lockdown, leaving salon and parlours understaffed.

"All my workers are in their hometown and here I am in a dilemma. I can't call them back. Taking care of them will be my responsibility and, in this financial crisis, I am unable to do so. Meanwhile, even if they don't come back, I am unable to run my business in full swing," stated Gulshan Patel, a salon owner.

This pandemic has left the barbers and parlour owners in a lot of financial distress. “People are somehow managing by using trimmers at home, as they are afraid to step out. Unless there's a solution to this pandemic, things won't change for us," stated Amar Kumar, secretary North Mumbai Parlour and Salon Association.

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