Coronavirus News Africa

Covid-19 restrictions on personal care industry to stay for now as DA court bid postponed



A hairdresser attends to a client during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The DA’s planned court challenge over the prohibition on haircuts and “personal care” services has been postponed.
  • Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma does not intend on opposing the application, her spokesperson said. 
  • The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said all hope was not lost as talks were underway over a reopening in a “responsible” manner.

The DA’s application to the Western Cape High Court to challenge the prohibition on the personal care industry, which includes hairdressers and beauticians, was postponed on Friday.

DA MP Dean Macpherson said Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was not ready to proceed.

“Which is nothing other than deliberate,” Macpherson believed. 

This means the industry might have to wait until 22 June to ask for a court to intervene so that they can resume working to support themselves and their families.

However, Mlungisi Mtshali, the spokesperson for Dlamini-Zuma, said the minister did not intend opposing the case, adding talks were underway to resolve the impasse.

Distancing

He added the industry had already agreed it could not keep the 1.5m distance between a client and the person attending to them, so there were behind-the-scenes negotiations on how these businesses would operate in line with Covid-19 protocols. 

Mtshali said a proposal had already been put to the Cabinet on ways of working without spreading the virus.

READ | Fear over side-effects of dodgy hand sanitiser

He added the Employers’ Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty (EOHCB) was also involved in the talks.

The DA launched the application to challenge the continued prohibition on hairdressers, masseurs, tattoo artists, piercing specialists from working.

The party and co-applicant Palladium, a hairdressing business, contend in papers Dlamini-Zuma had failed to make it clear who would formulate the directions relating to how and when the industry could resume work, and which grounds would be used to decide when it could reopen, and by when these directions would be completed. 

They wrote to her on 1 June asking for clarity, and by 5 June only received an acknowledgment of receipt of correspondence. 

The DA and Palladium contend in their application many businesses have opened and even when it was Level 5, businesses that involved close contact with other people had operated.

Questions

They said they were working hygienically even before Covid-19, and could trace any possible Covid-19 contacts if necessary.

They question why religious gatherings, schooling and non-contact sport is allowed, but not any of the personal care services.

They submit there are also medical services which require close contact – such as cosmetic dentistry and physiotherapy – which are allowed to work.

In the papers, it is stated the indefinite ban on personal care services is excessive, the law is not being applied correctly and the law itself is unconstitutional.

The main issue is directions and guidelines on when and whether they can reopen was delegated to an unnamed Cabinet minister, with no deadline given, so nobody knows what is going on, or even who to ask about it.

The DA said around half of the people in the industry were considered “semi-skilled” and their income prevented poverty.

It is also an industry in which most employees are female. 

“The industry is simply prohibited from operating indefinitely, subject to the whims of some unidentified minister,” submitted the DA in court papers.

“It is irrational and arbitrary to adopt such a blanket prohibition where other industries have been permitted to resume. 

“Closing this industry does not just stop people getting haircuts, piercings or tattoos; it stops people keeping a roof over their heads and food on  the table,” the papers read.

The DA said the EOHCB expected to get some guidance by 5 June, but this did not happen.



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