Barber community fighting for survival amid coronavirus

Rajib Kanti Roy

26 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Barber community fighting for survival amid coronavirus

Barbers have seen a decline in their business as a fewer number of customers now visit salons for getting their hair cut as well as shaving amid a rise in coronavirus infections. The photo was taken from a salon in Azimpur area of the capital on Friday. MD NASIR UDDIN

The barber community and the salon owners are fighting for survival as they are not getting enough customers amid the worsening coronavirus situation in the country.

Though they started heaving a sigh of relief in the last few months as the corona situation eased during the time, they are again feeling the pinch of serious financial hardship due to recent spike of deaths and infections from coronavirus.

Recently it has been observed that people are not going to barbershops adequately in fear of corona infection as they need to have their haircut in close proximity between the hairdressers and them.

Moreover, the customers are also scared as the hairdressers use the same tools for their haircuts.

Therefore, they are grooming at home by themselves to remain safe during the pandemic. Consequently, barbers have claimed that more than half of their incomes have reduced.

“People do not feel comfort to have services from barbershops or salons, affecting our daily income,” said Aminul Islam, a hairdresser of Perfect Cut Hair Salon in Mirpur DOHS.

“Before the pandemic, usually I got 20-25 customers a day and earned at  least Tk1200 but yesterday I served only 6-7 customers and earned Tk450,” he said adding that he is thinking to change his profession.

Ranjit Biswas, owner and a barber of Ma Salon in capital’s Shantinagar area, said, “Still I couldn’t pay back the loan that I took from an NGO during the last year’s lockdown to pay house rent, salon rent and salary of two workers. I have sent my family members to my village home and rented a seat in a mess to save some money.”

Customers, who are visiting men’s salons, are aware of maintaining health guidelines. They want chairs, combs and razors to be sanitised properly before use, which is increasing the operating cost of barbershops.

Monowar Hossain, owner of Modern AC Hairdresser at capital’s Hazaribag, said, “The number of customers increased slightly before Eid-ul-Fitr. But with the spike of coronavirus infections my shop’s income has dropped by 50 percent compared to the pre-pandemic period while I need to spend more money for ensuring safety protocols.”

“One of my barbers has quitted his job after Eid as he found it difficult to survive with inadequate number of customers,” he added.

Small barbershops are somehow surviving. These salons received a good number of customers at least before Eid-ul-Fitr but the posh salons of the capital are the worst sufferers.

These salons made all their arrangements to attract the people of elite class. But their target customers, who belong to comparatively more conscious section of the society, have almost stopped visiting barbershops.

As a result, owners of these cozy salons and men’s beauty parlours are counting loss while running their business. Many of them came up with innovative ideas to attract customers but nothing proved effective.

“Our barbers are working wearing Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) and maintaining all other necessary safety protocols. We are offering home service as well, though we are not observing any improvement. If the situation remains same, we have to wrap up our business,” said Shahed Kayes, owner of Menz Style, a beauty salon in Banani.

There is no exact number of the salons and barbers across the country. Dhaka South Salon Samiti general secretary Nurul Islam Robi assumes that there are around 7-8 lakh barbers in the country and some 70,000 to 80,000 of them work in the capital.

Bangladesh Nar Sundar Kalyan Samiti general secretary Dipok Shil said, “Barbers are the professionals who have been hit hard by the coronavirus situation in the country. But we are yet to receive any incentives from the government.”

“We neither can work properly nor beg. In such a situation how would we survive,” he added.

The number of Covid-19 cases is going up again casting a gloomy shadow of severe uncertainty over the livelihood of barbers. In such situation, they have little to do for their survival.