Close Contact Services Guidance
We finally have the official government guidance on close contact services. These services include hairdressing, barbershops, beauty and nail bars, makeup, tattoo and spray tanning studios, spas, sports and massage therapy, well-being and holistic locations, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.
This guidance is also designed for those who provide mobile close contact services from their homes and in other people’s homes, such as freelance stylists and beauticians.
Updated COVID-19 secure guidance sets out the measures that those providing close contact services should follow to protect staff and customers. Only services that do not involve work in the highest risk zone – directly in front of the face – should be made available to clients. This means that treatments such as face waxing, eyelash treatments, make-up application and facial treatments, should not be provided until government advice changes, due to the much greater risk of transmission.
Where 2 metres social distancing cannot be maintained, for example when providing a treatment, the person providing the service should wear a clear visor that covers the face, or the use of a screen or other barrier that protects the practitioner and the customer from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking.
Below we have included the main points that are applicable to you in our industry, but if you would like to read the full government document, then please click here.
Scotland Close Services Guidance
When it comes to Scotland’s guidance, you will follow the main UK guidance, but the key point of divergence between the Scottish Government and the UK Government is:
Face coverings are mandatory for clients and for staff
A face covering is defined as any type of protective clothing which covers a person’s nose and mouth, which includes fabric face coverings, scarves and visors.
In the Scottish close contact checklist, (which you can download here) it states: Staff should wear a visor in addition to a face covering. Visors are recommended but face masks are mandatory. Customers are also required to wear a face covering.
So for Scotland, you must wear a face mask, as these are mandatory. So you can’t just wear a visor, you must have a mask on as well, or you can just wear the mask.
Wales Close Services Guidance
Wales will follow the UK guidance, with all stylists wearing a visor. It is not mandatory for clients to wear a face covering, so it will be down to each salon whether they enforce coverings for clients whilst in the salon. To download the Welsh checklist on COVID-19 safety, click here.
- Make sure your COVID-19 risk assessment is completed! You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and the government expects all employers with over 50 workers to do so). They expect all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and clients that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this. You should do this by displaying a notification in a prominent place in your business and on your website.
- Ensure both workers and clients who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend work.
- In every workplace, increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
- Workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable. You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessments). Clearly, when providing close contact services, it often may not be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m apart with risk mitigation, is acceptable). As a result, personal protective equipment in the form of a visor will be required to mitigate the risk.
- Hair to be cut on the head only - so no beard trims or cut throat shaves.
Where a premises delivers a mix of services, only those services that do not involve work in the highest risk zone (defined as the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present which can pose a hazard), should be made available to clients. No treatments are to be provided on the face until government advice changes.
Examples of such services would include the following, though this list is not exhaustive:
- Face waxing, sugaring or threading services
- Facial treatments
- Advanced facial technical treatments (electrical or mechanical)
- Eyelash treatments
- Make-up application
- Electrolysis on the face
- Eyebrow treatments
- Intricate detailing, outlining or shaving of beards
- Advanced beauty therapy and aesthetic treatments (This does not apply to medical settings)
Treatments restricted to the body but excluding those in the highest risk zone can resume with mitigations as set out in this guidance.
Further mitigating actions include:
- Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
- Operating an appointment-only booking system to minimise the number of people on the premises at any one time.
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
- Using screens or barriers to separate clients from each other, and to separate practitioners from clients, such as in nail salons. If the practitioner is wearing a visor, screens will not provide additional protection between the practitioner and the individual. Everyone working in close proximity for an extended period of time must wear a visor.
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
- Using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity (defined as being within arm’s-length of someone else for a sustained period of time).
- Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead.
- Particular attention should also be paid to avoiding contact with surfaces near to the client and thoroughly cleaning those surfaces after each client.
- No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.
- Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, as well as regularly cleaning equipment or using disposable items where possible, for example nail files
- Avoiding skin to skin contact and wearing gloves where it is not crucial to the service, such as in nail bars and tanning salons
- Maintaining sufficient spacing between customer chairs/stations
Keeping Clients Safe
- The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your clients and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. As a salon, you will already take bookings and so will have systems for recording your clients and visitors.
- You need to take steps to avoid people from needing to raise their voice to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music in-salon too loudly. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission, particularly from aerosol transmission.
- Encourage clients to use hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities as they enter the premises or before treatment.
- Calculating the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) and limiting the number of appointments at any one time. Take into account total floor space as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.
- When booking an appointment, asking the client if they can attend on their own, where possible. Reminding clients who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
- Informing clients and contractors of guidance about visiting the premises prior to and at the point of arrival, including information on websites, on booking forms and in entrance ways.
- Adjusting how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients, for example, queue management or one-way flow. This may only be possible in larger salons.
- Ensuring any changes to entrances, exits and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled clients. For example, maintaining pedestrian and parking access for disabled clients.
- Using outside spaces for queuing where available and safe, for example some car parks. Queues outside should be managed to ensure they do not cause risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct clients.
- Minimising contact between different workers whilst serving a client, such as photographers, models makeup artists and stylists in a photoshoot.
- Operating an appointment-only system. Reviewing working practices to minimise the duration of contact with the client. Where extended treatments are undertaken, such as braiding, consider how the length of the appointment could be minimised.
- Encouraging clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment.
- Maintaining social distancing in waiting areas when clients wait for their appointments. When waiting areas can no longer maintain social distancing, consider moving to a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy.
- The use of changing rooms should be discouraged wherever possible. Where use of shower and changing facilities is unavoidable, you should set clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
- Making clients aware of, and encouraging compliance with, limits on gatherings. For example, on arrival or at booking.
- Businesses should consider providing shorter, more basic treatments to keep the time to a minimum, or offering alternative treatments including tutorials to clients where services/treatments cannot be provided, for example applying makeup.
- Spas should keep saunas and steam rooms closed until further notice. Spas may operate any of the following facilities outdoors from 13 July, and indoors from 25 July, providing social distancing is in place: gyms, jacuzzies, whirlpools, hydrotherapy and swimming pools –the government guidance must be followed.
- Seeking to avoid skin to skin contact with colleagues, and clients if not crucial for the treatment, and wearing gloves where possible.
COVID-19 related screening questions to be asked of clients ahead of their appointment, including:
- Have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
- Do you have a high temperature?
- Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
If the client has any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment.
You must ensure that toilets are kept open and to ensure/promote good hygiene, social distancing, and cleanliness in toilet facilities. Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- Using signs and posters to build awareness of good hand washing technique, the need to increase hand washing frequency and to avoid touching your face, and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
- Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
- To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe and practical, and ensure suitable hand washing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand driers) are available.
- Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage. Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
- Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate. Putting up a visible cleaning schedule and keep it up to date and visible.
- Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
Providing and explaining available guidance to your clients
- Provide clear guidance on expected client behaviours, social distancing and hygiene to people before arrival, when scheduling their appointment, and on arrival, for example, with signage and visual aids.
- Explaining to clients that failure to observe safety measures will result in services not being provided.
- Providing written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to both workers and clients inside and outside the premises. You should display posters or information setting out how clients should behave on your premises to keep everyone safe. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.
- Providing a safety briefing of on-site protocols, rules for shared areas and key facilities, for example, hand washing, in particular for freelance workers who may work at multiple locations.
- Ensuring latest guidelines are visible throughout the entire premises.
- Ensuring information provided to clients and visitors, such as advice on the location or size of queues, does not compromise their safety.
Social Distancing for Workers
You must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible. When providing close contact services, the nature of the work is such that maintaining social distancing will not usually be possible when actively serving a client. In these circumstances employers, employees and the self-employed should do everything they reasonably can to reduce risk.
Mitigating actions include:
- Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
- Using screens or barriers to separate clients from one another. If the practitioner is wearing a visor, screens will not provide additional protection between the practitioner and the individual. So screens are not a necessity if visors are in use.
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
- Using a consistent pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity.
- Only opening client waiting areas where social distancing can be maintained.
- Maintaining social distancing between the treatment or service areas, such as client chairs – every other chair in use or screens between chairs.
Social distancing applies to all parts of a business or home, not just the room where the service is delivered, but waiting rooms, corridors and staircases, where applicable. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and workers should be specifically reminded.
You must maintain social distancing wherever possible, on arrival and departure and to enable hand washing/sanitiser upon arrival. You must maintain social distancing as far as possible while people travel through the salon/workplace.
- Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.
- Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace, where possible.
- Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points, where possible.
- Providing hand washing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points.
- Collaborating with other businesses who may share the premises to minimise the numbers of people on site.
- Implementing physical changes like barriers or screens between, behind or in front of workstations where possible, such as between clients.
- Introducing more one-way flow in high traffic areas.
- Providing floor markings and signage to remind both workers and clients to maintain social distancing wherever possible, particularly in client interaction zones.
- Discussing with the client ahead of a visit to other people’s homes to ask that social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) is maintained from other people in the household.
Workplaces and Workstations
For people who work in one place, workstations should allow them to maintain social distancing wherever possible. Workstations should be assigned to an individual as much as possible. If they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.
- Reviewing layouts and processes to maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) between clients being served simultaneously, ensuring there is sufficient spacing between client chairs, for example, closing off alternate chairs.
- Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable).
- Avoiding overrunning or overlapping appointments and contacting clients virtually to let them know when they are ready to be seen, where possible.
- Using screens to create a physical barrier between workstations, where this is practical. This will not be required between the practitioner and client when the practitioner is wearing a visor.
- Asking clients to arrive at the scheduled time of their appointment and only providing a waiting area if social distancing can be maintained
- Using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity. For example, this could include a stylist and apprentice.
- Minimising contacts around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments including tips, where possible.
- Minimising how frequently equipment is shared between workers, frequently cleaning between uses and assigning to an individual where possible.
- Using disposable items where possible, for example nail files, and ensuring non-disposable items are cleaned between clients.
You must maintain social distancing while using common areas.
- Staggering break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat and ensuring social distancing is maintained in staff break rooms.
- Using safe outside areas for breaks.
- Installing screens to protect workers in receptions or similar areas.
- Encouraging workers to bring their own food and drinks.
- Not allowing food or drink to be consumed in the salon by clients other than water in disposable cups or bottles.
- Reconfiguring seating and tables, such as in waiting areas, to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.
- Encouraging workers to remain on-site for their shift.
- Considering use of social distance marking for other common areas such as toilets, staff rooms, changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.
- Preparing materials and equipment in advance of scheduled appointments, such as scissors or hairbrushes in hairdressers, to minimise movement to communal working areas.
- Scheduling appointments to avoid client congestion in waiting areas, particularly in establishments with smaller waiting areas.
- Only the client should be present in the same room for appointments in the home.
- Providing a secure area where social distancing is maintained for a client when services or treatments require development time, for example hair colouring.
Cleaning the Workplace
You must make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including:
- An assessment for all sites, or parts of sites that have been closed, before restarting work.
- Cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser, before restarting work.
You must keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.
- Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
- Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.
You must keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces
- Spacing appointments to allow for frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.
- Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including door handles or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.
- Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift, including not providing reading materials such as magazines in client waiting areas.
- Sanitising any reusable equipment, including client chairs, treatment beds, and equipment, such as scissors used after each appointment, and at the start and end of shifts.
- Using disposable gowns for each client. Where this is not possible, use separate gowns (and towels in the normal way) for each client, washing between use and disposing appropriately as required.
- Encouraging staff not to wear their uniforms at home or to and from the workplace, to change uniforms on a daily basis and to wash immediately after use.
- Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment, for example keeping windows or doors open.
Hygiene – hand washing, sanitation facilities and toilets
You must help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.
- Using signs and posters to build awareness of good hand washing technique, the need to increase hand washing frequency and avoiding touching your face.
- Adopting good hand washing technique and increasing hand washing in between appointments. For mobile operators, in the absence of hand washing facilities, you must use hand sanitiser.
- Providing clients access to tissues and informing them that if they do need to sneeze or cough, they should do so into the tissue, which should then be discarded appropriately and that they should wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser after using a tissue.
- Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
- Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in premises in addition to washrooms.
- Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
- Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.
- Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
- Providing hand-drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical dryers.
You must reduce transmission through contact with objects in the premises.
- Encouraging increased hand washing and introducing more hand washing facilities for workers and clients or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.
- Implementing enhanced handling procedures of laundry to prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus.
- Putting in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand.
- Enforcing cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site
- Regularly cleaning equipment that employees may bring from or take home. Cleaning should also take place before and following client use.
- Ensuring that equipment entering a person’s home is thoroughly cleaned before use and between clients, with usual cleaning products.
- Minimising client contact with testers, for example, employees demonstrating testers from a distance or facilitating the use of testers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings
In workplaces such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons and tattoo and photo shoot studios, it is likely to be difficult to maintain social distancing, as employees need to work in close proximity to their clients, usually for an extended period of time. An extended period of time refers to the majority of the working day, irrespective of the number of clients served during the day.
The person providing a service (such as hairdressers, because of the period of time spent in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose) should therefore wear further protection in addition to any that they might usually wear. This should take the form of a clear visor that covers the face and provides a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking. Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. It should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face.
Both disposable and re-usable visors are available. A re-usable visor must be cleaned and sanitised regularly using normal cleaning products. There is no requirement for the client to wear any additional protection such as a mask or face covering, when the practitioner is wearing a visor.
There is no benefit to either the client or the practitioner of wearing additional PPE to that which they would usually use, beyond the clear visor mentioned above. The most effective methods of preventing the transmission of COVID-19 are still social distancing and regular hand washing. These steps must still be followed as much as possible, even when practitioners are wearing protective equipment.
In instances where you are contacted via the test and trace service, having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will still need to self-isolate even if you are wearing a visor at work. This is because the risk of transmission cannot be ruled out, even if wearing a visor reduces that risk.
Services which require workers to be within the ‘highest risk zone’ of clients (defined as the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth, that may not be visible, can be present and pose a hazard from the client to the practitioner and vice versa), for the entire duration or the majority of the time the service is being provided (such as eyelash extensions), should not be resumed unless they can be adapted in line with this guidance to make them safe (for example, by moving out of the highest risk zone and wearing a visor).
There may be some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. However, face coverings are not an alternative to wearing a visor in close contact services.
When clients are not having a treatment or service, both the practitioner and client should maintain social distancing and so a face covering will not be required. Clients and employees should follow existing guidance on face coverings when they are not in close proximity, as explained below. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. However, clients and workers who want to wear a face covering should be allowed to do so
A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context.
It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.
Wearing a face covering is required by law when travelling as a passenger on public transport in England. Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons. Elsewhere in England it is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.
Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it.
- When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
- Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
- Continue to wash your hands regularly.
- Change and wash your face covering daily.
- If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions.
- If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste.
- Practise social distancing wherever possible.
As far as possible, where workers are split into teams or shift groups, or assigned to specific tasks, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people
- Staggering shift start times, minimising worker congregation such as at entrances and exits.
- Creating a schedule for staff detailing in advance how treatments will take place and what arrangements have been made with clients.
- You should assist the test and trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks
- Minimising unnecessary contact for deliveries. For example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking
- Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries, for example by ordering larger quantities less often.
- Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles or meet delivery people at the front door.
- Scheduling deliveries for outside of client appointment times.
- Re-stocking/replenishing outside of workplace operating hours