The government has faced a furious backlash over the list of beauty treatments that are still banned as nail bars and salons reopen in England next week.
Social media users have questioned why they cannot get their eyebrows waxed or make-up applied when men can have their beards trimmed.
Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, body and skin piercing services, physical therapy businesses and spas will reopen from Monday.
Updated Covid-19 secure guidance sets out the measures that those providing close contact services should follow to protect staff and customers.
Only services not working in the highest risk zone – in front of the face – should be available, the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
It means treatments such as face waxing, eyelash treatments, make-up application and facial treatments should not be provided until Government advice changes.
Also on the banned list are dermarolling, dermaplaning, microblading and electrolysis on the face due to the close contact needed.
But basic treatments including manicures, pedicures, leg waxing and bikini waxing are all set to return.
Nail bars, beauticians, spas and tattoo parlours will be allowed to welcome back customers from Monday
YouTuber and presenter Dr Sally Le Page led the backlash on social media, posting: ‘I can’t imagine why threading someone’s eyebrows while they wear a mask is ”risky”, but getting up close to a man’s mouth to trim his beard is ”safe”.’
One woman wrote: ‘This remains to highlight the sexism in the government … a barber can surely trim a mans beard but god forbid (typically) a woman wants her brows doing?’
Another posted: ‘No we are basically all out of it now, hairdressers can trim beards but beauty salons can’t do facial treatments.’
One livid worker put: ‘Please tell me how beauty salons can survive when most treatments are off limits?
‘How do we continue to pay our bill’s? Please tell me why a beard trim is safer then a brow wax or a eyelash application? I’m begging for logical reasons.’
While another said: ‘Please demonstrate a eyelash extension applicant, please demonstrate a brow wax, please demonstrate a facial treatment. Please explain how this is face2face.’
One woman wrote online: ‘I can’t do makeup STILL on someone else but hey, a man can get his f***ing beard trimmed. I’m sorry I didn’t realise that this was 1903.’
Another user posted: ‘A beard trim can be done with a mask on but eyelash/brow treatments can’t?!! The sexist double standards of these rules.’
One tweeted at Cabinet ministers: ‘Calling out @BorisJohnson @AlokSharma_RDG @MattHancock @OliverDowden @GOVUK to explain the reasoning & science behind the decision to allow barbers to trim beards/moustaches but not allow beauticians to thread/wax upper lips/eyebrows.’
A second asked: ‘@BorisJohnson so beard trim is ok but no facial/brow treatments for ladies!?! Are you making this up as you go along?’
And one woman added: ‘We can’t do any treatments on the face which is a huge % off our treatment list.
‘However barbers can do facial hair and trim men’s beards!! Hmmm more injustice!!!’
Where two-metre social distancing cannot be maintained, for example when providing a treatment, the person providing the service should wear further protection in addition to any that they may usually wear.
This should be 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.
The Government has worked with a range of stakeholders in the beauty industry to develop the measures close-contact services will need to consider to become Covid-19 secure.
These include screens, appointment-only booking systems, minimising time spent on the premises, increased hand washing and surface cleaning, using disposable equipment where possible, and avoiding skin-to-skin contact.
Staff are advised to avoid skin to skin contact and wear gloves where possible, with nail bars and tanning salons able to make an exception
Other measures include maintaining sufficient spacing between customer chairs, banning food or drink other than water, and making sure a limited and fixed number of workers work together, if they have to be in close proximity to do their jobs.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘We have been clear throughout this crisis that we want as many businesses as possible to reopen, but we must be confident it is safe for them to do so.
‘From July 13, thousands more businesses which offer close-contact services like nail and beauty salons will be able to welcome customers back in a way that is safe for both workers and the public.
‘Enabling these often small, independent businesses to reopen is yet another step in our plan to kickstart the economy to support jobs and incomes across the country.’
Oliver Dowden made the announcements yesterday at a Downing Street press briefing
Millie Kendall, from the British Beauty Council, said: ‘It’s a positive step, but we are still only part of the way there.
‘We will keep working closely with governing bodies and supporting everyone in beauty until we are able to achieve the fully-reinvigorated beauty industry we all want.’
The guidance also applies to businesses that operate in different locations, such as massage therapists working in people’s homes, and those learning in vocational training environments.
Businesses will need to keep records of staff and customers and share these with NHS Test and Trace where requested, to help identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment and are confident they are managing the risks.
The Government said businesses must have taken the necessary steps to become Covid-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.