Coronavirus: Barbers offering haircuts 'flouting law'

By Colin Campbell
BBC South East Special Correspondent

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media captionThe barbers offering haircuts in defiance of lockdown rules

Barbers are offering haircuts despite coronavirus lockdown laws, BBC South East has found.

Legislation banning businesses from operating to stop the spread of the disease was brought in six weeks ago.

But 19 out of 50 barbers contacted by the BBC in Kent and Sussex offered appointments at home or in shops. One said he was so busy he had a two-day wait, while others doubled prices.

Medway Trading Standards said some were "deliberately flouting the law".

Out of the 50 barbers who were contacted by phone, 19 did not answer the call and 12 declined - but 19 of them said they were willing to cut hair.

Immunology expert Dr Jenna Macciochi, from the University of Sussex, said: "If they're seeing quite a few clients, that's interactions with quite a few different people who may also therefore be interacting with other people.

"This all gives any person who may already be infected and asymptomatic opportunity to spread the virus quite rapidly and potentially [to] a large number of people."

image captionNineteen out of 50 barbers were willing to break the law

Barbers who are abiding by the law expressed frustration that some were prepared to break the rules.

Josh Kneebone, director of Strops Barbers, said: "All businesses are suffering, especially businesses that are customer-based.

"It just makes me angry to be honest, the fact that people are still profiting from this."

Celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke, who has been offering online styling advice, said he was disappointed but not surprised.

"They're not putting into place anything that could even justify their behaviour," he said.

"They're probably thinking the peak is coming down, why don't I take the risk?"

Ian Gilmore, from Medway Trading Standards, said: "There's a tiny fraction that want to deliberately break the law.

"It's not done out of naivety, it's done for commercial advantage."

He said deliberate breach of the law could lead to a prohibition notice and a criminal case, and fines for such offences were unlimited.

He urged people to report suspicious activity.

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