Beauty industry goes underground due to COVID-19 restrictions

Restrictions imposed on the beauty sector have led to many salons working illegally, Latvian Radio reported November 13.

As of Monday, November 9, it is stipulated that beauty salons, tattoo and piercing parlors may not operate, leaving only hairdressers. Representatives of the beauty sector interviewed by Latvian Radio admitted that the situation is now uncontrolled - many have moved from salons to apartments or newly rented premises.

The Latvian Association of Beauticians chair, Sabīne Ulberte, said it is no secret that many beauty experts work at home and do not pay taxes. Also, when working at home, it is not always possible to provide all health safety measures.

Ulberte said: “When we found out that starting Monday we couldn't work, the whole sector automatically stretched into underground shadow economy. Why? There is absolutely nothing provided in place. There is absolutely no alternative, and it had not been discussed at all with our industry in this case.”

Ulberte said a different situation was in the spring, when discussions with the industry resulted in all necessary precautions being taken in beauty salons – ranging from facial masks and disinfectants to separating walls. She added that no COVID-19 infection cases had been recorded originating from a beauty salon.

“I know specific cases where equipment is brought home, which I think is unacceptable, but on the other hand, I am very well aware of the situation in which these specialists have been put, because they do not have a monthly payday. Clearly they will look for an opportunity to work and they will work at home.

In this case, the state loses control not only over the spread of COVID-19, but also all other infectious diseases.”

“There are those who move from the salon to apartments, those who are looking for rooms that are informal, which cannot be found so easily and are in an office building. Everything is going on.

So they [the State] won't achieve anything with this. Only underground workers. Unfortunately.

Before that, people worked more (me, for example) officially, and I showed some income, some not, but taxes are still paid. Then right now, I think most will work and stay silent, and the shadow economy will only flourish,” said beautician Ilze (name changed).

Also, the owner of one of Riga's beauty salons, who wanted to remain anonymous, is convinced that the government's decision to partially limit workers in this sector will have an opposite effect.

“I'm sure the 'underground' salons are already thriving - especially manicure businesses, because there are and will be many women who simply cannot do without it. We don't accept customers, and I hear the desperation on the phone of the clients. I'm sure there will be a part that will look for the so-called underground options, which should be taken into account. Therefore, salons who are public and comply with this condition are the most affected by this prohibition.

The effect has been achieved, in my opinion, to promote the service in unhygienic conditions where no safety measures are taken,” said the owner of the salon.

 

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