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Irish Spa Association warns of emerging black market in beauty sector due to extended industry closure

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Irish salons and spas are being left in limbo while the business of beauty continues behind closed doors

An emerging shadow economy of the Irish beauty industry will continue to grow rapidly unless the sector is allowed to reopen soon, the Irish Spa Association (ISA) has warned.

ISA co-founder Anita Murray revealed that a growing number of dangerous and unregulated treatments are being conducted in people’s private homes while legitimate beauty businesses remain shut due to the pandemic.

Irish beauty businesses have been closed since 24 December and, at the time of writing, have no specific reopening date.

The Government’s latest statement indicated it may consider reopening personal care services, including salons and spas, in a phased approach in May. It will announce its final decision in April.

“When salons and spas are open it’s a controlled environment that’s open for health and safety audits. However, we’re really concerned about people going into homes where there are no controls in place,” Murray told RTÉ News.

“Our primary concern is people’s health and safety.”

The ISA argues the sector urgently needs reopening to squash this shadow economy and its associated risks. Otherwise, pent-up demand for beauty services will continue to encourage unregulated and illegal treatments with high risks of spreading COVID-19.

“Irish salons and spas are being left in limbo while the business of beauty continues behind closed doors,” Murray continued, “and a growing shadow economy not only poses a risk to public health but damages the legitimate businesses that are restricted from operating."

The ISA is confident the Irish beauty industry is highly capable of taking the difficult decisions and necessary safety precautions needed to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and ensure business continuity.

Its recent survey reflected that 100 per cent of respondents were compliant with appropriate PPE measures and no surveyed facilities experienced confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks within the salon or spa setting.

The organisation has been in continuous dialogue with the government to represent Irish beauty businesses throughout the pandemic and is lobbying hard for an official reopening date.

Last month, the ISA urged the Government to safeguard struggling salons, spas and beauty businesses by providing full commercial rent relief.

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An emerging shadow economy of the Irish beauty industry will continue to grow rapidly unless the sector is allowed to reopen soon, the Irish Spa Association (ISA) has warned.
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