First, the toilet paper and hand sanitizer aisles were bare. Now your boss gave you instructions to work from home, your kids’ are home from school and you can’t go out for dinner, to a movie or the mall. While it may feel extreme, these steps are being taken to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In doing so, you’re participating in a public health strategy known as social distancing.
So you should stay at least 6 to 10 feet from anyone except your immediate family. The goal of social distancing is to reduce exposure to large crowds, like ones you’ll find at concerts, crowded bars or schools.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. It can include large-scale measures like cancelling group events or closing public spaces, as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds. Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease
Social distancing is one of the community mitigation measures that may be recommended during influenza pandemics. Social distancing can reduce virus transmission by increasing physical distance or reducing frequency of congregation in socially dense community settings, such as schools or workplaces. We conducted a systematic review to assess the evidence that social distancing in non-healthcare workplaces reduces or slows influenza transmission.
Why is social (physical) distancing so important?
Health officials have repeatedly stated that physically distancing ourselves from other people is critical to try and limit the spread of COVID-19 as best we can.
The rationale behind social (physical) distancing is to try and avoid a huge spike in COVID-19 cases that will put too much strain on our health care system all at once. If everyone gets sick at the same time, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and won’t have the capability to provide the necessary treatment for everyone.
Instead, we can focus our efforts to “flatten the curve” and prevent that spike in cases. If everyone does their part and practices social (physical) distancing to slow the rate of COVID-19 spread, it will give hospitals a fighting chance to continue to have room, necessary supplies and health care providers for all patients who need care. This will protect those individuals at greatest risk of serious complications or death.
How do I practice social distancing?
The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
This means, “No hugs, no handshakes.”
It’s particularly important—and perhaps obvious—to maintain that same 6-foot distance from anyone who is demonstrating signs of illness, including coughing, sneezing, or fever.
Along with physical distance, proper hand-washing is important for protecting not only yourself but others around you—because the virus can be spread even without symptoms.
“Don’t wait for evidence that there’s circulation [of COVID-19] in your community”. Go ahead and step up that hand-washing right now because it really does help to reduce transmission.”
On the broader scale, a number of actions taken in recent days are designed to encourage social distancing, including:
- Schools, colleges, and universities suspending in-person classes and converting to remote online instruction
- Cities cancelling events, including sporting events, festivals, and parades
- Workplaces encouraging or mandating flexible work options, including telecommuting
- Organizations and businesses cancelling large gatherings, including conferences
- Houses of worship suspending services
“Community interventions like event closures play an important role,” Rivers says, “but individual behaviour changes are even more important. Individual actions are humble but powerful.”
Time for a makeover even for salons:
During the lockdown, we saw countless stories online of people sharing their attempts at cutting and colouring their hair. From David Beckham to Virat Kohli, many picked up the clippers to shear off their ragged locks. A behavioural change in people fuelled a passion for DIY—plucking, waxing, dyeing and cutting their hair—helping them survive the quarantine.
It’s no surprise then that personal grooming products have been the highest-selling items online recently. “Products such as trimmers for men and women, and epilators and hair clippers have seen nearly 2.5x increase in the past few weeks.
But as the lockdown is lifted and shops open, what will happen to salons and barber shops, an area of business in which social distancing is nearly impossible? Clearly, the time has come for new grooming standards in hygiene and safety to help minimise the risk of spreading the virus at salons. These guidelines will also encourage customers to let go of their fears and apprehensions and visit salons again. States like Tamil Nadu, for instance, have made Aadhaar number and mobile number of a customer mandatory (as part of Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP) for haircut or grooming services to help in contact tracing if the need arises.
Other measures include monitoring of salon teams and customers through Aarogya Setu app, mandatory face shields, rubber gloves, sanitised towels, chairs and equipment, shoe covers, temperature checks, compulsory hair wash before haircut, etc. Disposables will also be the new norm when it comes to linen, towels, capes and gloves, most used wearables in salons.
Salon volume will be kept at a minimum of 50%, with stylists working at every other station at least six feet apart. Before entry, clients will wait outside and have temperatures checked. Once inside, all stylists will be wearing plastic shields and masks, while clients are required to wear masks. Belongings must be limited to a phone and form of payment—no handbags. Regarding services, there will be no blow-drying to avoid an airflow of germs, and that will also cut down on in-salon time.
“The first two days we were open, we averaged about 250 clients a day across all the salons,” Council explains, adding that they’re only seeing returning clients and that the most popular treatments are regular haircuts and colour touch-ups, many for grey roots. In addition to keeping his staff safe, he wants to be sure they’re not going to get run down in this new, challenging environment. “It’s hard to work in a mask and shield,” he emphasizes of the realities of working with a large sheet of PVC covering the eyes, nose, and mouth. “We have stylists and colourists rotating, working two days on and two days off.”
As more and more salons begin operating at reduced capacity and with extreme protective measures, Hershberger believes the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting effects on the salon industry. “Sanitation has always played a huge role at salons, but I think people will take it more seriously than ever before,” she explains. “Most stylists don’t wear masks while doing hair, but it could become permanent attire. With social distancing being such an important player in flattening the curve, I believe that salons won’t be operating at full capacity for quite some time. Appointments will be more limited and spread apart, and salons may not be a place to gather for a while.”
L’Oréal India, too, has announced support to Indian salons, outlining hygiene and operating guidelines. It will help by supplying masks and hand sanitisers as part of the new operating guidelines. Its ‘Back to Business’ hygiene and safety guide is being distributed among its 45,000-strong salon network and over 1, 70,000 hairdressers. The guide includes details on safer operating procedures, including hand cleansing, tool disinfecting, pre-booking, reorganisation of salons to space out appointments, electronic payment, etc., to ensure social distancing.
In a survey conducted during the lockdown by Enrich Salons (a unisex salon chain present in six cities—Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda) with over four lakh customers across India, it was found that a significant number were keenly looking forward to salons opening. “An initiative ‘Call Is Well’ was taken up to check on clients to understand their well-being. This led to further boosting our bond with customers. Our therapists conducted sessions where customers were guided through the process of doing some services in the DIY mode,” says director Vikram Bhatt.
“The luxury salon industry works on an appointment basis, which strictly ensures no overcrowding. New SOP measures include staff and clients wearing PPE kits, placing floor stickers to assure a safe distance of at least six feet between customers, self-assessment through health assessment app, salon hygiene, sensor-based sanitisers, sterilisation of mobiles and cash, pedal sanitisers, step-and-pull mechanism for doors, staff to commute by private vehicles and not exit the salon for tea/lunch break, etc. Even threading would be done with tweezers (to ensure technicians have the mask on)… for waxing, only cartridge wax would be permitted,” says Bhatt.
The initial months post the lockdown, however, will see a surge in the demand for DIY grooming products, as walk-ins at salons would be slow. “It will take two-three cycles of salon visits to build back the confidence,” says Manish Chhabra, managing director and CEO of cosmetics company Hygienic Research Institute, which is known for its hair colour brand Streax Professional. “Salons will also witness an increase in their operating costs, which they will have to pass on to the consumers eventually,” he says.
This article was brought to you by Safe Space. Safespace is itself a provider a safety technologies and provides related services as required by its customers.
SafeSpace: A Safety System that Qualifies, Secures and Monitors travellers for Zero Contagion during Travel and beyond. It believes that there are 4 key was in which social distancing can be made a success or followed. They are as follows:
- Design the space for movement
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SafeSpace also believes that there are few solutions from which we can manage people’s movement in public place such as:
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