Melbourne is too accustomed to lockdown, finally coming out of its sixth lockdown and wracking up the days for what has been reported as the longest cumulative lockdown in the world.

With lockdown officially over as of last Friday when the state reached a 70 per cent double vaccination rate, we spoke to a group of hairdressers about what it means to open again after months back in lockdown and a year and a half spent in and out of closures.

When the state reaches 80 per cent double vaccination rate on Friday, the five-client cap will end and only the four square metre rule will remain, as regional Victoria and Melbourne unite under the same rules. Masks are still required indoors, contact tracing protocols are essential and these rules apply only for vaccinated employees and clients.

We spoke to Victoria’s hairdressers about their own latest Freedom Day and what it means for salons.

Jacky Chan, Oscar Oscar Salons

After such a long lockdown I was super excited to be back in the salon and just to be able to utilise my skills and profession to provide a service that gave back to the public with that special feel good feeling. At the same time there was also a slight anxiety going back into the businesses with all the new Government guidelines that we will have to comply with and organise our appointments around, however all our guest have been supper grateful and patient. It’s truly a blessing.

Dejana Abouzeid, M.O.H & Co

The feeling of returning to the salon has been mixed emotions of happiness, joy and uncertainty. Clients are overwhelmed and appreciative and I get the sense they really understand our craft and I believe they’ve developed an understanding of our profession a lot more.

Michael Piastrino, Ibiza Hair

Being able to re-open has been a blessing in many ways. As a business owner, to see my amazing team again but also being able to look after all our clients. Being closed for two months has allowed us to focus a lot more on our education platform, which will launch in the USA in 2022.

Our clients love how we have put them first in every way possible from the selection of cold drinks which I import from Italy, to the post-service calls each client receives a few days later to make sure they’re keeping well and they were 100 per cent satisfied. Satisfaction is something I strive for. It’s either 100 per cent in or nothing.

Tom Donato, Xiang Hair 

After a tumultuous 18 months of Groundhog Day we’re back! Half broken and half pumped more than my entire forty-four year career, it’s time to pick up where we left off. The anxiety levels are through the roof and the questions were rolling over and over through my mashed brain as we anticipated going back to work. Will my team be OK with the vaccination mandates? Will the Karens of the world be out in force to challenge every decision we have had to enforce whether we agreed with them or not?

We’re back and, yes, we have had team issues, yes, we have had the odd Karen, but for the most part we are so glad to be back. With the overwhelming support from the loyal guests that we have been servicing, some for as long as our brands have been in existence, 32 years, the anxiety is now all but gone. Lessons have been learnt from past lockdowns. It’s now team first, loyal guests second and Karens out the door.

We love our chosen craft and we love our amazing team. It’s all systems go from here, slower and more mindful than the previous lockdowns. Hopefully it’s the last time our lives and businesses will be disrupted whilst we navigate through the next phase.

Tom White, Same Same But Different Salon

Opening up means everything! We finally have our purpose back. A life without purpose is just existence, and who wants to just exist? People are just happy for us that we can trade again. The support has been phenomenal. The amount of love shown to us is the reason we do what we do. With the dark times we have all faced, it gives you a sense of validation and conviction knowing people rely on you for that slice of happiness. Even the people we can’t get on until December are just grateful they have an appointment. They are well drilled in coming out of lockdowns here in Melbourne. 

Nathan Armagnacq, Oscar Oscar Salons

It’s a huge relief to open up for many of our guests as they didn’t realise how their overall mental health was attached to how they feel about their hair! Sentiment is high right now with good vibes and everybody is laughing and happy. It’s a great time to be in the salon.