Businesses who offer close contact services celebrated the news that they will be able to re-open this month and said they “don’t know how they’d manage” if Wales goes into another lockdown.

Beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers have been told they will be able to open to customers from April 12, and mobile services can also resume.

Several say they are already fully booked for when they reopen and are relieved to be able to reopen their doors again.

Charlotte McNeil
(Image: Rob Browne)

Charlotte McNeil is the owner of Cardiff Beauty Clinic and has been running the business for over four years.

Charlotte said: “The staff are just ready to go back to work and we are hoping this will be the last time. It will be a bit mental now for the next two weeks when we get ready, but we can’t wait to get back.

“We restrict the flow of customers coming in. We have had no reception since last March, so nobody is standing around waiting.”.

Charlotte said the team are now hoping no further restrictions are put in place like, for example, staff not being able to carry out facial treatments. If such rules were put in place the business owner said it would have an impact on their trade.

Charlotte pictured last summer
(Image: Rob Browne/WalesOnline)

She added: “90% of our treatments are face, but most of our treatments are done from behind, so this is one thing I’m hoping they don’t come out with.

“We have had so many appointments. We are fully booked until the middle of May.”

When asked what sorts of treatments are in popular demand, Charlotte said the types of treatments people seem to want are “varied”.

Charlotte said: “There are so many bookings. There are customers getting booked for things from injectables to nails, and there are lots of people booked in for multiple treatments too.”

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Charlotte said one of the biggest fears is the thought of another lengthy lockdown. She said the firebreaks are manageable, as even though businesses have to close for a period, they still know when they can go back to work. It’s the element of the unknown that causes difficulty.

She said she’s also worried the beauty industry is seen as a “fluffy” profession, but said it takes a lot of skill and a lot of training to be able to carry out the procedures they offer at the clinic.

“It’s a lockdown that affects us,” she added.

“We had no funding and no help this time. I just don’t know how we could maintain it. I don’t know how we would manage if we had another lockdown. We are doing very specialised treatments, and we have to do a lot of training.”

Tattoo artist, Alex Roberts, has shared her thoughts about close contact services being able to re-open
(Image: @Ashleabeaphoto)

Tattooist Alex Roberts, 24, also said she feels her industry has been a bit overlooked. The young tattoo artist from Bridgend works in the Pencoed area, and said it has been a tough year for many artists who are self-employed.

She said it was great to hear close contact services will be able to work again, but feels there is still a lack of understanding about the importance of the work artists like her do.

Alex said: “There is still a huge stigma around tattoos.

“There is a prejudice almost about tattooing, and those who have tattoos, but we are a very clean industry.”

Alex said professionals in the industry are used to being super sterile, and have always worn Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). She said they are very aware of how cautious they have to be, so the main change for many artists has been limiting the amount of people who attend for appointments and ensuring people attend alone.

She also said most tattooists get into the profession because they absolutely love what they do.

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Alex said: “It’s just a beautiful craft and it has a beautiful history.

“You do it because you love the idea that you are creating art on people forever. We have so many meaningful requests from people, and that’s why we love it so much. You feel quite euphoric after having a tattoo that means a lot.”

The last 12 months have also been difficult for Alex in other ways, aside from not being able to do what she loves. She said she’s only been tattooing for nearly two years and, within that time, she’s spent less than a year actually working.

She even took to tattooing herself during lockdown to make sure her skill was still up to scratch and said, for people in the profession, coping without a steady wage has been hard.

Alex said: “I think the main thing for a lot of tattooists has been the money side of things. We are self-employed and because we are not working we’re not getting paid. I wasn’t entitled to the grant so I have been relying on Universal Credit payments for a year now.”

A tattoo created by Alex
(Image: Alex Roberts)

She also said time away from work can be scary, as when it comes to this sort of profession, practice makes perfect.

“It’s scary to go back,” she added. “I tattooed myself after the first lockdown on my leg – just to make sure before I worked on other customers – to make sure I wasn’t rusty but everything was fine.”

Going forward she said it’s all about hoping business picks back up like it did after the first lockdown. She said it was really busy when she was able to work again last summer, so she hopes customers will be as committed to coming back this time around.

She added: “We’re thankful for how many people actually wanted to come back to us. We were really busy, and it was really lovely.

“The only thing that really affected us was the local lockdowns – they were really tough. I have a lot of friends in Cardiff and Bristol, and they are still waiting to get tattooed by me.”

Make-up artist, Leanne Warren Hester
(Image: Leanne Warren Hester)

Make-up artist, Leanne Warren Hester, is also ready to get back to work, but she thinks business won’t pick up properly for her until the pubs and clubs re-open.

Leanne has a room at her home in Merthyr Tydfil where she works on most of her clients, apart from if she travels to do wedding make-up. Leanne, 43, said she has started to get a few bookings but she knows some people won’t want to have their make-up done until they can go on nights out again.

When asked if she was thrilled to hear the news today, Leanne said: “Absolutely. I have had a few bookings. Until the bars and pubs open, I don’t think it will be as busy until then, but I have a few weddings booked in that have already postponed twice, so it’s nice to get back to it.”

Leanne said she’s built up good friendships with some customers who she knows will want to come back and fore, and there are also people who will just want to glam up to help them feel a bit better.

“Some will say they will have it done whether they are in the back garden or just to have a bit of a cheering up,” she added.

“I have booked in for my dermaplaning too so I can’t wait.”

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Leanne said she’s just hoping this will be the last time we go through a lockdown, as she’s already re-opened the business once, just to have to close the salon doors a few months later.

But with the weather getting nicer, and things starting to get back to some form of normality, Leanne hopes she’ll be able to keep on going this time and hopefully business will be booming by the summer.

The make-up artist also said social media has been essential to her during the lockdown periods, as she’s still been able to share tips and products with customers to keep them engaged. She also joined TikTok for a bit of a giggle, but her videos ended up gaining thousands of views, which has given her a boost.

She added: “People will be excited to get back out, dress up and have their make-up done. A bit of normality.

“I joined TikTok as a bit of a laugh and a lot of the videos have gone quite viral. I have 40,000 followers. It’s really strange but being home a lot of the time it keeps me busy. If I can help people with tips and things then that’s great. I’m grateful for social media because you’re still interacting with people so that’s great as well.

“It will be good to do someone’s face other than my own. I have been redecorating a little bit in my room so that’ll make it nice then. It’s been keeping me busy.”

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