Covid-19: close contact services

Many close contact services are required to close in November during national restrictions in place in England.
When restrictions are lifted again the summary of the government guidance below may be helpful.


The following measures should be considered for close contact services including hairdressing, barbershops, beauty and nail bars, makeup, tattoo studios, tanning salons or booths, spas and wellness businesses, sports and massage therapy, well-being and holistic locations, dress fitters, tailors, fashion designers.

The following is a summary of the full government guidance, which can be found here. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has also produced guidance on re-opening salons and spas safely.

All services listed above, including mobile services, may open from the 13 July 2020.

Any treatments which involve the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard are not permitted as they are classed as high risk

Social distancing

You must maintain social distancing wherever possible.

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business and/or organisation to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

Mitigating actions include: Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible, using screens or barriers to separate people from each other, using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business and/or organisation, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, changing rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing

Managing the risks

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody's health and safety is protected. In the context of COVID-19 this means protecting the health and safety of your workers and clients by working through these steps in order:

  1. Ensuring both workers and clients who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premise.
  2. Keep a record of clients, contact details and dates/times of attendance for 21 days.
  3. In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
  4. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable. You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessments).
  5. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

Clearly, when providing close contact services, it often may not be possible to follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m apart with risk mitigation). As a result, personal protective equipment in the form of a visor will be required to mitigate the risk. Further mitigating actions include:

  1. Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
  2. Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
  3. Using screens or barriers to separate clients from one another. If the practitioner is wearing a visor, screens will not provide additional protection between the practitioner and the individual. Everyone working in close proximity for an extended period of time must wear a visor.
  4. Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  5. Using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity (defined as being within arm’s-length of someone else for a sustained period of time).
  6. Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. Services which require workers to be within the ‘highest risk zone’ of clients (defined as the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth, that may not be visible, can be present and pose a hazard from the client to the practitioner and vice versa), for the entire duration or the majority of the time the service is being provided, should not be resumed unless they can be adapted in line with this guidance to make them safe (for example, by moving out of the highest risk zone and wearing a visor).
  7. The closer someone is to the source of the virus, the greater the risk of transmission. Particular attention should also be paid to avoiding contact with surfaces near to the client and thoroughly cleaning those surfaces after each client. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.
  8. In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Keeping Clients Safe

In order to minimise the risk of transmission and protect the health of clients and visitors in close contact services you should:

  1. Encourage clients to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises or before treatment.
  2. Calculate the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) and limiting the number of appointments at any one time.
  3. Ask the client to attend on their own, where possible.
  4. Remind clients who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
  5. Inform clients and contractors of guidance about visiting the premises prior to and at the point of arrival, including information on websites, on booking forms and in entrance ways.
  6. Adjust how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients, for example, queue management or one-way flow.
  7. Maintain social distancing in waiting areas when clients wait for their appointments. When waiting areas can no longer maintain social distancing, consider moving to a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy.
  8. Discourage the use of changing rooms wherever possible. Clients should be advised to change and shower at home.
  9. Review working practices to minimise the duration of contact with the client. Where extended treatments are undertaken, such as braiding or massages, consider how the length of the appointment could be minimised.
  10. Keep appointments short. Businesses should consider providing shorter, more basic treatments to keep the time to a minimum, or offering alternative treatments including tutorials to clients where services/treatments cannot be provided, for example applying make-up.
  11. Spas should keep saunas and steam rooms closed until further notice.
  12. Spas may operate any of the following facilities outdoors from 13 July, and indoors from 25 July, providing social distancing is in place: gyms, jacuzzies, whirlpools, hydrotherapy and swimming pools
  13. Making clients aware of, and encouraging compliance with, limits on gatherings. For example, on arrival or at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any 2 households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any 2 households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most 6 people from any number of households.
  14. COVID-19 related screening questions to be asked of clients ahead of their appointment, including:

    – Have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
    – Do you have a high temperature?
    – Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?

    If the client has any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment.


Ventilation is an important part of mitigating against the transmission of COVID-19. Ventilation into the building should be optimised to ensure a fresh air supply is provided to all areas of the facility and increased wherever possible.

You should also consider:

  1. Maintaining good ventilation by opening windows and doors frequently, where possible.
  2. Increasing the existing ventilation rate by running fans on full speed
  3. Operating the ventilation system 24 hours a day
  4. Increase the frequency of filter changes


The facilities should be thoroughly cleaned before reopening and maintained in a clean condition when open. This will help to prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including door handles or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.
  2. Spacing appointments to allow for frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.
  3. Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift, including not providing reading materials such as magazines in client waiting areas.
  4. Sanitising any reusable equipment, including client chairs, treatment beds, and equipment, such as scissors used after each appointment, and at the start and end of shifts.
  5. Using disposable gowns for each client. Where this is not possible, use separate gowns (and towels in the normal way) for each client, washing between use and disposing appropriately as required.
  6. Encouraging staff not to wear their uniforms at home or to and from the workplace, to change uniforms on a daily basis and to wash immediately after use.

Supporting Test and Trace

The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.

Collect sufficient data on each attendee (name, home phone number, mobile number, date and times of entry and exit) so that each person could be contacted if there is a case of COVID-19 connected to your facility. The government has issued further information on record keeping.

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