World News

Danish hairdressers signal end to Europe's bad hair days

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s hairdressers flung open their doors on Monday after a month-long coronavirus lockdown, fixing a horror show of home haircuts and giving hope to other Europeans that their bad hair days will soon end as well.

“Basically for the next two weeks we are super packed,” hairdresser Erik Bjornsson said as he worked in the spacious Street Cut salon in downtown Copenhagen, shaking his head at the early procession of amateur attempts at a chop.

“I want to take this opportunity to say to people who actually didn’t cut their hair at home - thank you very much.”

Across Europe, people under lockdown are nursing a burning desire to visit a hair salon or barber shop. In Greece, a third of people surveyed by MRB pollsters put this at the top of the list of things they want to do when the health crisis ends.

Greeks still don’t know when their hairdressers will reopen, but the Swiss only have to wait one more week. Germany, Austria and perhaps Portugal follow. Everywhere, though, the thrill of a professional shampoo and cut is tinged with anxiety.

In Copenhagen’s Street Cut salon, hairdressers drape clients in disposable plastic gowns, clean their scissors and combs and the surfaces of chairs and benches between sittings. They don’t serve coffee as normal or leave magazines in piles to be read.

But neither they nor their clients wear masks.

Denmark, which locked down early in Europe, has relatively few coronavirus infections and deaths, and masks are not mandatory. But in harder-hit countries, they may be required.

“We need a strict hygiene plan. If safety is not good enough, they should not open,” said Melanie Chatfield, 26, a hairdresser in Berlin where salons are set to reopen on May 4.

“I don’t think anyone’s life depends on getting their hair cut or dyed.”

For tech executive Martin Boston, a regular at the Street Cut salon, it was a relief to have his hair professionally cut again. He can’t wait for his colleagues to do the same.

“To be honest I have a lot of video conferences and to look at people who have cut themselves - it looks like they’ve been through a wood chipper,” he said.

Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen, Riham Alkoussa in Berlin and Renee Maltezou in Athens; Writing by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Alison Williams