Hair and Beauty Saloon owners in Lesotho cry foul that the lock down regulations that shut their business on the premise that they are super spreaders of COVID-19 will kill them. The meeting comes after serious physical confrontations between the business owners and law enforcement officers this week. The clashes happened as security officers sought to enforce ban imposed on these businesses per ‘ORANGE LEVEL RESTRICTIONS’ of the Risk Determination and Mitigation Framework published by National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) as well Legal Notice NO 63 of 2020. Hairstylists and beauticians had nonetheless continued operating regardless of the ban as their efforts to engage NACOSEC had failed.
Through their representatives, these business owners approached DPE to assist them in resolving this matter. They indicated that from the onset, the crafting of Risk Determination and Mitigation Framework was highly biased and lacked proper scientific backing as it identified their businesses as super spreaders of COVID-19 without consultation. They pushed back by noting that even before the emergence of this pandemic, they were already using protective clothing such as gloves and masks. Also, they have been using hygiene and cleaning materials such as shampoo, ethanol-based liquids etc, as such they maintained that the nature of their operations makes highly unlikely to promote spread of Covid-19.
Besides the abovementioned measures, these businesses have also put in place other safety measures which include reducing number of workers and clients to reduce crowding, contact tracing of clients and increased use of protective clothing as well as application of sanitizers. However, regardless of these measures these businesses remain restricted from operating. As economic hardships continue to hit hard, these business owners noted that they have suffered severely. They have lost income, had to retrench some workers, owe rental fees, some even lost their equipment as landlords repossessed it. This sector has given livelihood to thousands of Basotho, who are currently without income.
It is against this backdrop, that they pleaded with DPE to join hands with them to engage NACOSEC, government and all stakeholders, to revise the determination to impose ban on these businesses. Among others, these businesses would like to be risk determined and classified at the same level as supermarkets. In the coming days, DPE jointly with the representatives of this sector shall engage NACOSEC and government to find a peaceful and mutual beneficial resolution of this matter.