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Forres beauty therapist demands clarity on facials rules as other businesses offer them despite regulations

By Garry McCartney

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The Scottish Government has effectively banned facials because the treatment requires the face to be uncovered.
The Scottish Government has effectively banned facials because the treatment requires the face to be uncovered.

A SELF employed beauty therapist from Forres wants to know why her industry is banned from providing a popular service allowed in England.

The mum, who wishes to remain nameless, had to close her business for four months during lockdown and continues to lose around £1000 profit a month as facial treatments are banned by the Scottish Government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

She said: “Facial treatments, including lip and chin waxes, provide the vast majority of the industry’s income but the legislation demands that the face must be covered at all time in treatment rooms.”

Having reopened on July 13, beauty salons and spas in England have been permitted to offer treatments on the face since August 15.

Despite salons in Scotland being allowed to reopen on July 22, facials remain banned. Face coverings remain mandatory for staff and clients so only services such as manicures and pedicures are allowed.

Scottish Government advice defines a high risk zone as “the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present”.

It adds: “If treatments in the high risk zone cannot be carried out without the ability to be provided from the side of the face or behind the head then they should not be offered in this phase of the Scottish Government’s Route Map.”

The Forres beauty therapist initially raised the issue directly with the Scottish Government on September 11.

A Governance, Freedom of Information and Business Support Unit spokeswoman replied: “The treatments you refer to will always require the face covering of the client to be removed to carry out the procedure.”

The therapist then raised the issue with Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead, who conceded that the guidance on facial treatments/procedures and the need for clients to wear a face covering is not clear cut and is being interpreted differently by different salons.

He said: “As long as you have completed a risk assessment, you are confident that you have all the PPE in place, and can carry out procedures from the side of the face or behind the head, then you are to make the judgement on the procedures you can and can’t complete. However, there will be some that the risk assessment would show the risk was probably too high and, as clients should be wearing a facial covering, facials wouldn’t be possible.”

However, the local therapist was called back by Moray Council who offered stricter advice.

She said: “When I called Moray Council’s environmental health department to let them know I was going ahead with facials, three days later they called me back to tell me I absolutely must not as legislation had changed.”

An environmental health officer said: “Face coverings should not be removed to enable any beauty treatments to take place, and unless exempt both client and beautician should wear them for the duration of their time within the salon.”

The therapist feels she is still missing definitive answers on behalf of her industry in Scotland.

She said: “We are stuck with professional facial products which have around 12 months’ shelf life – who is going to compensate the unused products that expire? If the removing of face covering in the beauty industry is a no-no, how can participants in live Scottish TV shows get their make-up done by make-up artists? Why are mobile beauty therapists banned from working but mobile hairdressers are not? Why is Scotland is the only nation in the UK banned from facial treatments?”

She finished: “We have been left without any explanation or clarification, just a ban for our most profitable treatments. We don’t even know when they will be allowed to resume.”

The Gazette asked Moray Council and Richard Lochhead for clarification.

Moray’s MSP replied: “No specific treatments are banned, however, there are processes that must be followed, which I have checked with Moray Council’s environmental health office and which agrees with the advice my office has received and shared from the Scottish Government. The processes to be followed are that both the client and the therapist must wear masks at all times; all treatments should be risk assessed by the business; treatments should be carried out from behind or to the side of the head and time in the high risk breathing zone should be minimised. The rules are there for the safety of all concerned, especially when we are experiencing a growth in infection rates and cases of Covid-19.

“The rules and guidelines are regularly under review but must have public health protection at their heart.”

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