“I think many of us are suffering from COVID fatigue, so I want my salons to be a safe space where people can unwind, escape and enjoy some indulgence for a few hours,” he said.
“My staff aren’t bouncers and don’t have the skills to diffuse potential volatile situations that may arise when trying to enforce this rule.
Hairdressers will be permitted to provide services to vaccinated clients from October 11, when more than 70 per cent of the state’s adult population will be fully vaccinated.
Sandy Chong, chief executive of the Australian Hairdressing Council, said listening to conversations about the pandemic all day could be detrimental to hairdressers’ mental health.
“We understand that many clients would like to share their experiences, but few conversations will be positive,” she said. “Having a listening ear is a relief for some, but the bearer of no end of negativity can wear a stylist’s mental health thin by the end of the day, and week.”
Renya Xydis, founder of Valonz and Salon X in Paddington, said she had tried to foster a “COVID talk-free zone” in her salons.
“A seasoned hairdresser can steer clients’ conversations away from endlessly talking about COVID,” she said. “It’s the younger hairdressers I fear for, as they just want to please everyone, and they don’t have the skills to divert the client’s conversations.
“Endlessly hearing about COVID from each and every client takes a heavy toll on them, to the point of boredom and exhaustion.”
Workers at Ms Xydis’ salons will be encouraged to avoid discussing vaccine status and lockdowns “and to be transparent they actually don’t want to talk about it” she said. “Haven’t we all heard enough in the media?”
In contrast, Daniel Walton, spokesman for the Hair Stylists Australia union and national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, said the campaign was “perhaps well-intentioned” but did not really make sense.
“People like to talk to their hair stylists about what’s happening in their lives, and clearly COVID is the biggest thing happening in most people’s lives right now,” he said.
“Hair stylists have always been de facto therapists and that role is only set to intensify.”
Mr Walton said there was a need for state governments to introduce new laws to make sure anyone who abused a hairdresser about COVID, or anything else, faced severe penalties.