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Safe haircut prices go haywire amid Hanoi Covid resurgence

By Pham Nga   January 23, 2022 | 06:09 pm PT
Many residents are willing to pay a lot of extra money to get a safe haircut in Hanoi, especially with Tet approaching and Covid-19 resurfacing strongly.

Hoang Thuy of Bac Tu Liem District spent VND8 million ($352.58) on a three-hour styling package, which included restoration, curling and dyeing.

The 40-year-old businesswoman said she was busy meeting clients and dealing with the year-end workload, but still wanted to get a haircut before the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival. Vietnamese will have a nine-day break for Tet, the country's biggest holiday, starting from Jan. 29.

But with Hanoi recording nearly 3,000 cases in recent days, she feared that her work would get interrupted if she accidentally contracted Covid at the hair salon.

To ensure absolute safety, she called up Han Lam, owner of a popular salon in Thanh Xuan District, to book a hairdresser to visit her home.

When she was told that the hairdresser would not be able to have all the tools at home, and the smell of chemicals would affect her baby, she rented out Lan's entire salon for the duration of her hair treatment if they met all her conditions.

She requested that the person doing her hair be the salon owner and wanted everyone there to be vaccinated or have a negative Covid test result. She also asked them to keep a safe distance from her while she was there.

"As Tet approaches, lots of customers have wanted to rent the entire salon. But I've only allowed five close customers to do so. They are business owners, senior officials or those from affluent families," Lam said.

Han Lam cuts hair for to the only customer in his hair salon on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo courtesy of Lam

Han Lam services the only customer in his hair salon on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo courtesy of Lam

Like Thuy, Hong Hanh, 25, also texted a familiar hairdresser to come and cut her hair at her home in Hai Ba Trung District instead of going to the salon.

"I'm not under home quarantine. I'm just afraid of contracting Covid when going to crowded places," she said, adding she booked a night appointment to avoid the hairdresser losing any potential patron coming to the salon during the day.

Vu Xuan Thu, 31, the salon owner who visited Hanh's house to cut her hair, said many customers have asked her for the same service. However, she has agreed to do it only for haircuts, not other services like hair styling that requires different tools.

Before visiting the house, Thu made a video call to show her Covid negative test result. She also informed customers that she will have to charge extra for traveling fees and money to pay for a Covid-19 rapid antigen test.

A normal haircut at the salon costs about VND400,000, but the price doubles for house calls.

Serving only high-end customers who pay an average of VND5 million per treatment, Duc Thuan's salon in Ha Dong District is spending the last few days of the year serving only regular customers.

The shop has two main hairdressers and seven assistant. They serve less than 10 customers a day, allowing a maximum of three guests at a time.

When they enter the salon, customers and owners have to wear masks, have their temperature checked.

"We only serve long-term customers, so the number of people coming to the salon is very small. Customers can choose to wear masks or not without having to worry about the risk of getting infected," said Thuan, 30.

Many barbershops and salons have been strictly controlling the number of visitors in and out of their venues, and strictly observing preventive measures like temperature screening and disinfecting. Some places conduct rapid testing every three days for employees.

Business as usual

But many popular women's hair salons in medium and high risk areas like Cau Giay, Thanh Xuan and Hai Ba Trung districts are still packed with customers, with many not bothering to maintain social distancing as advised.

A salon on Minh Khai Street is packed with customers on Jan.15, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Thao

A salon on Minh Khai Street is packed with customers on Jan.15, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Thao

Nguyen Thuy, 27, went to a salon near her house in Cau Giay District to get her hair done before Tet. By the time she got her hair done at 10 p.m., there were still two people waiting their turn.

"Since I do many treatments, I had to wait 30 minutes between each section. So it can take hours for me to get my hair done. Many salons are packed at this time of the year. If you want to get groomed, you must willing to wait," she said

Since she has gotten three Covid jabs, Thuy said she was not too worried about coming into contact with many people. She said the salon she went to did not check customers’ body temperature or asked people to scan a QR code before coming in, despite the fact that Cau Giay is currently a high-risk area.

Hanoi has recorded nearly 109,000 infections in the ongoing fourth Covid-19 wave.

 
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