Hairdressers and barbers were allowed to reopen on Monday for haircut appointments only and with a number of safety measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said last week that businesses in the sector, which had been shut since Wales entered lockdown on December 20, would be allowed to reopen because they have “gone through everything that is needed in order to operate safely”.
Customers at Sleep When You’re Dead barbers in Cardiff said they felt “relieved” and “refreshed” after having their hair cut for the first time in 2021.
David Saunders, 38, who runs a healthcare clinic, told the PA news agency: “My appointment was cancelled when they shut in December, so I haven’t had a haircut since the summer.
“I was going a little stir crazy.
“My wife says having a haircut is really important to how I am around the house, and with family and work.
“When my hair is a mess, I feel as if I’m appearing as a mess.
“A lot of my meetings are online, and I feel as if I’m not portraying my business in the way I’d want to.
“So it’s had a huge impact.”
Mr Saunders also said he had missed the camaraderie and social aspect of visiting his barbers, adding: “I think the health aspect and psychology is really underestimated.”
Dan Thain, 36, who owns a fire and security business, told PA: “I feel refreshed, a bit more normal and ready to go again.
“It’s like we can see light at the end of the tunnel.
“If you’re dealing with customers, it looks good if you turn up and you’re looking and feeling a bit sharper.”
Safety measures at the barbers include staff and customers being required to wear disposable face masks and aprons provided by the shop, hands sanitised on entry, while work stations, instruments, and chairs are also sanitised between each haircut.
Beard trims are banned, track and trace forms also have to be completed by customers, and the shop is deep cleaned at the end of each day.
Manager Adrian Rooke said he was glad his staff could return to work, but said continued business was reliant on other industries reopening in Cardiff city centre.
He told PA: “Ours is a small economic community that relies on so many things.
“There’s nothing open in the city centre right now.
“Office workers are off, there’s no theatre, casino, restaurants, pubs clubs or wine bars.
“Cardiff city centre is a ghost town.
“We need other businesses back up and running.”
Mr Rooke said there should be “back to work grants” to help small independent businesses like his own which are unable to operate as usual due to ongoing restrictions.
Monday’s reopening of hair salons marks the first lifting of rules for close contact services since Wales re-entered lockdown back in December, with businesses like nail parlours and beauty salons expected to remain shut until at least April 12.
Wales’ “stay-at-home” restrictions were lifted on Saturday as the country moved to a “stay local” period, with travel restrictions expected to be eased further in time for Easter.
Wales’ seven-day case rate on Monday stood at 39 cases per 100,000 people, which remains the lowest of any country in the UK.