Zaina Mugaidi, one of the clients in the salon says that whereas she likes keeping her head neat and clean by plaiting her hair, she’s scared of corona virus infection because of there is no social distancing in the salons. She also observed that none of the salonist was wearing a face mask as required.
On Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni announced plans to
allow salons to resume normal operations about four months after they were
closed as part of the Covid19 control measures. Despite the official closure,
some salonists in Kampala have been going about their normal business.
I set out to check some of the salons in
town early this week. Walking down Luwum Street along Majestic Plaza, a lady
dressed in a knee level long green dress approaches me and asks if I was
interested in her saloon services. I respond to her call.
She asks me to follow her as she leads me to her saloon. Off we go along
Luwum Street till we enter Gazaland, a commercial building.
Most of the
shops were under lock and key. As we walked, I thought
that she was taking me to a nearby place but to my dismay, we walked a
long distance and went through various bends and stairs again till we got to
Wangweri Hair Saloon. At the salon, I was
astonished to see a two by two room occupied by 12 people. Our pair
increased the number to 14.
allocated a seat by my salonist. One could hardly get a feel of fresh
air because of congestion despite the doors being wide open. The people in the salon had to adjust their
seats to create space for us too. I was allocated a seat in the corner. “Customer
please take your seat,” my salonist said.
Once seated, I asked
how much working on my hair would cost. “Just 15,000 Shillings for both unplaiting and washing your hair,” was her reply. She explained
that since the lockdown started, they had stayed at home and had only resumed their operations
to earn some money for survival.
As I listen in, she gets a pair of scissors and starts
cutting my weave so as to start unplaiting the hair. As she’s working on me,
her neighbor gets a new client after completing the one she was working
on hours before I got in. We were asked to move a little further to the wall
where we squeezed ourselves.
I ask, don’t the police disturb you? “No way, we are
operating very far from their sight, I don’t think they can locate us and in any case the police are people like
us so why should I be scared of them?”, she replies to me with a smile
all over her face. In the salon ladies discuss their expectations in the
president’s 19th address on the Covid19 lockdown.
However, not so many are
optimistic that they will be permitted since some of them don’t believe that
COVID-19 really exists as all the Standard Operating
Procedures (SOPs) like wearing facemasks, washing hands and social
distancing are violated. Twenty minutes later,
my salonist asks me to stand up and go to the sink where a queue had formed as
women wait for their hair to be washed.
Looking at how dirty
and old the sink looked, I immediately withdrew from the queue and told the salonist
that I had received a message and needed to run an urgent errand in town. I then paid her Shillings
10,000 for unplaiting my hair and waved her goodbye.
Off I went to find
my way back to the street. I could hardly remember
where I passed but followed people till I got somewhere I knew and found
my way out of the building.
Zaina Mugaidi, one of the clients in the salon says
that whereas she likes keeping her head neat and clean by plaiting her hair,
she’s scared of corona virus infection because of there is no social distancing
in the salons.
She also observed that none of the salonist was wearing a face mask
// Cue in: “If you are, ….
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Abdul Kareem Mucunguzi, the Chairperson of the
Association of Salons and Spars in Uganda (ASSU), says they were forced to
resume work illegally to earn a living. He admitted that many of the salonists
had failed to observe the Covid19 preventive measures and SOPs.
// Cue in: “They are doing, ….
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He however, said they
would ensure they enforce the directives once government gives them greenlight
to resume their operations.
// Cue in: “We are discussing,
….Cue out: …. Can be open” //
While allowing the
salonists to resume work on Tuesday night, President Yoweri Museveni directed
them to wear face masks and face shields. He also directed all salons to
secure temperature guns, practice social distancing, enforce hand washing and
allow air conditioning.
He said those in towns should have partitions where
customers can wait from.