Amid China virus fears, even a haircut is a major operation

World

A barber cuts a client’s hair near a disinfection notice at a hair salon in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Olivia Zhang)

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BEIJING (AP) — Need a trim in Beijing? You might have to wait.

Even getting a haircut has become a challenge in China now that most barbershops are temporarily shut to avoid public gatherings amid the virus outbreak.

Customers must maintain a distance of no less than 1.5 meters (5 feet) between chairs — that is, if they manage to make an appointment. Barbershops have to call customers who made reservations on the day of their appointment to ask if they have a cough or a fever, symptoms of pneumonia caused by the virus that causes COVID-19, according to information on the website of the Beijing Hairdressing and Beauty Association.

“Now we try to wash hair faster and cancel unnecessary services so as to cut down on the time with customers. We keep the door open every day. Once the customers who made reservations arrive, we will disinfect their hands and shoe soles,” said Fu Jun, founder of JF Pro Salon. “These are the measures we take to ensure safety.”

Just 130 Beijing barbershops were allowed to open by Monday, only a tiny fraction of the more than 20,000 that usually operate across Beijing, Fu said.

Of JF Pro Salon’s eight Beijing shops, four have been allowed to open since Feb. 16.

Fu said 40% of its employees are back to work. Others are in self-quarantine, required by the government of all who have returned from out of town. And some are unable to return at all because of the suspension of transport services from many places.

Monday is the second day of the second month of the Chinese lunar calendar, traditionally an auspicious time when people rush into barbershops to get new haircuts. Getting a fresh look on the day is thought to bring good luck for the year ahead.

In past years, more than 200 customers would flock to each of his shops on this special day, Fu said. But today only about 100 customers made reservations in the four shops that are open.

Fu said his business can basically make ends meet but things must be much harder for other barbershops.

One of JF Pro Salon’s customers on Monday was designer Ge Songyue, a regular of another of Fu’s shops who came from the other side of the city to get his hair cut on the auspicious day.

“I think we should trust each other and let life get back to normal. If we need to have our hair cut, let’s just do it,” Ge said.

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