So... can I still go to the hairdresser if I'm social distancing?
As of March 31, indoor and outdoor public gatherings will be limited to two persons only (with exceptions around household units, families, elopements and funerals). Australians are now strongly advised to stay home unless you are shopping for food or necessary supplies, medical or healthcare needs, exercise in compliance with public gathering requirements, work and study if you can't do so remotely.
This means you can no longer go to the hairdresser.
On Monday March 23 all non-essential services were closed and these include registered and licensed clubs, licensed premises in hotels and pubs, entertainment venues and cinemas, casinos and nightclubs. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway only. Indoor sporting venues (including gyms) and places of worship will close.
However, shopping centres and supermarkets were not subject to these restrictions and services such hairdressers can remain open. A new update on Wednesday March 25 stipulated that customers could only remain on the premises for 30 minutes. However, this was scrapped on Thursday morning given after push back from hairdressers and barbers.
Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said the 30-minute rule had to be canned because it was impractical.
"It was very apparent that it was an impractical limitation," he said.
"I know my wife has never been to the hairdresser for less than 30 minutes and neither have I to be frank."
Social distancing is still advised and many establishments are reassuring clients that they're stepping up their already strict hygiene protocols.
Mark Rippon from the Hair and Beauty Industry Association (HBIP) told news.com.au that there's a strong focus on the safety of workers and clients.
“Salons are disinfecting all frequently touched objects and surfaces continuously throughout the day," he told the publication. “All staff are using alcohol-based hand sanitisers before and after treatments and have it on hands for customers too.”
Many hairdressers have also binned communal items like magazines and have started using gloves and masks. Some salons have also closed every second chair to ensure 1.5 metres between clients. However, Melbourne-based GP Preeya Alexander says it's still a dilemma for social distancing despite new restrictions.
"This is a tricky one," Melbourne-based GP Preeya Alexander says. "The first question is, can you maintain a 1.5 metre distance from everyone else?"
Imagine yourself getting a cut, colour or blow dry and the answer is probably not.
"Right now we in the medical community are heavily advocating for people not to mingle, to cancel non essential gatherings to 'flatten the curve' and stop COVID-19 from rapidly spreading," Dr Alexander explains.
"So, it’s a personal decision but staying away right now, avoiding others is key to stopping this virus from spreading."
So the official verdict? No, you can no longer go to the hairdresser.