Hit by the pandemic and the high-risk nature of their business amid the COVID-19, barbers around Maharashtra have demanded a financial package from the MVA government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The state government has imposed stringent new restrictions, which exclude essential services, from Wednesday till April 30 to break the COVID-19 transmission chain. Barber shops, salons, spas, beaches, clubs, swimming pools and other non-essential essential establishments will remain shut during the period, according to a government notification.
The Maharashtra Nabhik Mahamandal, in a communication to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday, claimed 20 salon owners died of suicide across the state since the lockdown was enforced for the first time last year. They complained that their families still haven't received any financial aid so far. The government has declared a financial package for relief to the other sectors, the umbrella body of salon owners noted.
It said the state government should also deliver financial help to salon owners and barbers. It's been a particularly shocking blow to the industry, which has been resilient even in the face of economic slump.
The pandemic has left small business owners and employees worried about how they will make a living. Many barbershops were shut permanently as many owners complained of the business.
"Our business is run by people on whom the entire family is financially dependent. We don't charge thousands of bucks from the people as we don't work in big malls. If these restrictions are extended after 15 days, the situation will be grim. Like other establishments we also take preventive measures, but still why aren't allowed to function, Rohit Kshirsagar, one of the hairdressers in the city, expressed his rage.
An employee working in leading hair salon in the city, who did not want to be named said, "It's the same situation as last year. April 1, would be the last since I used my salon equipment. With half salary, last year, I survived but if the situation worsens, I may plan to pack my bags to return hometown in Bihar."
Last year, the Maharashtra government had allowed barber shops, salons and beauty parlours to resume operations in June after they were closed for more than three months, under its Mission Begin Again, unlock plan.