Salons, where people get their haircuts and other hairstyling services, are available across the capital city. But during the coronavirus pandemic, they had to struggle a lot for survival.
Md Kamruzzaman Ashrafi Chunnu is a hairdresser in Mohammadpur area. He has been working as a professional hairdresser since the mid-1980s. Everything was fine for him before coronavirus broke out in the country in March.
Before establishing his salon, he used to work as an employee in other hairdressing shops in the capital. He had moderate earnings at the time. He opened his shop near Mohammadpur bus stand back in 2017 with a dream to be self-reliant.
Unfortunately, he had to keep the salon closed for nearly four months due to the pandemic-induced lockdown. Besides, he also witnessed a decline in the number of clients even after reopening the shop in late July.
When asked how he was doing in his salon business, he said, "I am badly in need of customers. They now rarely visit salons fearing coronavirus infections."
"I opened this shop with loans from my family and friends to be self-dependent. But I am unable to repay the loans now as my earnings have dropped significantly. Survival is my greatest challenge now," added Chunnu.
He said he used to earn around Tk1,000 on average per day before the coronavirus outbreak. He had a gross of income of around Tk500 a day, excluding costs like wages of employees and other daily expenses.
People do not visit hairdressing shops. Rather, they shave their heads at home.
"But the situation is not favourable now. I can hardly earn up to Tk200 a day. People do not visit hairdressing shops. Rather, they shave their heads at home," he said.
Chunnu also regretted that being an informal sector worker, there was no government assistance for him. He did not have any support from non-governmental organisations or anyone else during lockdown either. Being the only breadwinner of a five-member family, it was a nightmare for him to maintain everything.
He was unable to pay house rent for around five months. He could not pay the rent for his shop either for three months. Since he had no earnings during lockdown, he felt helpless.
In his shop, he had two employees, but one of them had left as Chunnu could not pay wages regularly. The other is still working with him. He is now unwilling to hire anyone as he fears he may not be able to pay them.
The pandemic, however, did not severely impact a few big and luxurious hairdressing shops in the city. Some of them continued their business amid lockdown. They offered services following all necessary health guidelines.
When asked why he could not do the same by maintaining health rules, Chunnu said he did not have sufficient funds to buy hygiene products.
Now, he runs his shop every day from 8am to 10pm. He also follows the healthcare measures properly while providing hairdressing services to clients.
He cleans the chairs with sanitiser before and after a client sits there. He also applies sanitiser to his hands and the tools he uses for hairdressing. Moreover, he always wears a mask when he works and asks his clients to do the same.