Latgale still has the lowest vaccination rate against Covid-19 of all Latvian regions. Accordingly, there are fewer beauty service providers and recipients who have been vaccinated.
“We're twitching from every doorbell. We're locking doors, only accepting checked customers. [..] You cannot call it a business now, because the capacity is only about 20% at the moment,” a beauty salon manager in Daugavpils said. She did not want to reveal the name.
She described the challenges faced not only in her salon:
“How can we provide ourselves with a salary? What client will now come to the procedure if they have to pay tens of euros for the test? We're on our knees. It's no secret, the whole sector will go underground. The hairdressers, the cosmetologists who can, will work at home. We lost half our employees in the first wave of the pandemic, they went to other countries.[..] It's a business crash. And it's no joke.”
The grey area in the sector is topical, said Sabīne Ulberte, president of the Latvian association of beauty professionals.
"People certainly won't live with unkempt nails and hair, they will get the service the same way they got it when there was a complete total downtime for the whole industry. Only now secretly, illegally. The owners of salons tell us that the unvaccinated staff are leaving. This means both the bankruptcy of a particular company and the expansion of a grey economic area.
"It's absolutely clear. But it does not do anything to encourage vaccination. As far as the customer is concerned, it is a disadvantage for the unvaccinated to come to a procedure with a valid test. Choice: conduct a test for money and get the procedure for the same money. A large part, therefore, choose gray-zone services," Ulberte said.
"The only part of society suffering from these restrictions is the one that fulfilled all the requirements of the government. The services will suffer from a disastrous reduction in income, particularly if only vaccinated persons [can get the service] because the vaccinated population is smaller than the unvaccinated.[..] There will be no compensation from the government, no downtime benefit, because we can work," Ulberte said.
The supervisory authorities – neither the State Police nor the local government police – have yet punished any beauty salons in Latgale for violating the rules. A good solution would be at least free tests in this situation, according to residents in Latgale.