‘CLOSE THE DOOR’: Hairdresser pleads for mandated closure
GRAFTON hair salon owner Kerrie DiMattia has a simple message for the prime minister.
"He's got to let us close," she said.
Ms DiMattia is in isolation in a caravan at Minnie Water after flying back from a business conference in Bali last Wednesday, with federal regulations requiring her to quarantine for 14 days.
"I'm away from my family, unable to help my team," she said.
"We're all trying to run it through phone calls and computer, and my team are doing a solid job. They've been amazing."
Ms DiMattia said she, along with many in the hairdressing industry watched the prime ministers announcement on Monday night with dismay, and fear for the future of her staff, and the industry in general.
"I feel like he has thrown us to the lions," she said. "How is a beauty therapist who is in the same proximity forced to close, but we are told to stay open?"
"I know it's about the economy, but he's forcing us to stay open with little or no clients. People are scared and the haircut is the last thing on their mind."
Ms DiMattia said the salon's bookings were down by around 80 per cent, and with the announcement of 30 minute appointments now being the longest allowed, Ms DiMattia said they had been swamped with inquiries to fit them in today (Wednesday).
"With the people we had booked in, with the social distancing we are at capacity," she said.
"We're stuck between a rock and a hard place. We can't look after our valued clients, we've got to honour the appointments that were there - we can't just jam people up to the walls."
"We are not an essential service," she said. "People can do without hair cuts - we're all going to be siting at home at this point in time.
"To class us an essential service, to leave us open, although he's doing it for the economic climate, and to slow down the Centrelink queues.
"I'm in the position where I've got 10 staff who I value and if I stand them down voluntarily I will support them for as long as I can but it's not given that they guaranteed the Centrelink benefits."
The Australian Hairdressing Council's CEO Sandy Chong said the decision to leave hairdressers open was outrageous, with approximately 40,000 hairdressers and barbers put at risk by the decision.
"Why beauty was shut down but hairdressing wasn't, I don't understand," she said.
"The Fair Work Act, as it stands, makes it costly for businesses if they choose to stand down without the Government's directive.
"As for the 30 minute appointment rule, that cuts out most services that salons offer their clients, particularly colour. While many barbers can do a male haircut within that time frame, it really isn't feasible for a majority of hairdressing salons."
Ms Chong said the stand-down of hairdressing and barbering must be addressed by the national cabinet as soon as possible.
Ms DiMattia echoed her concerns for her staff.
"I've got to put my team first - as a businesswoman without my team I can't look after my clientele," she said.
"I've asked my staff for their permission to stay open.
"If they have said I'm not comfortable that's totally fine. I would never force anyone to work under these conditions.
"I honestly believe for my staff's welfare, we need to close the door and have it mandated.
"I watched with the rest of Australia as he announced everyone but hairdressers and my heart just sank."
UPDATE: Ms DiMattia has posted on the DiMattia & Co Facebook page to say she is voluntarily shutting down her salon. The post is reproduced below.