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Barbershops press on as longtaitou arrives in Beijing amid virus epidemic

By XIN WEN | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-25 09:01
Liu Qingchi (right), a master barber at time-honored barbershop Jinbancun, serves a customer in Beijing on Monday. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

For barber Wang Zhifa, Monday would normally have been a day of endless work. But due to the coronavirus, this year is anything but normal.

Longtaitou-literally, the dragon raises its head-is the day many Chinese like to get a haircut in expectation of a new start.

However, according to the 31-year-old Beijing barber, the special Monday failed to lure the usual large number of customers for the "annual ritual".

"I was very excited for longtaitou as the isolated days at home bored me during the past Spring Festival, and hearing the news that our store could open motivated me to get more haircuts done today," said Wang, adding he had completed four haircuts by 3 pm Monday.

Wang is the manager at YesFashion hair salon near Zhuhuanian community in Chaoyang district. His salon was one of 116 barbershops that opened on Monday in Beijing.

"We had received a dozen phone calls and on-site appointments yesterday to ask for a haircut today," Wang said. "And I expect 20 customers by 6 pm."

At the 30-square-meter salon smelling of disinfectant, body temperature checks are required for each worker three times per day.

A designated supervisor from the community neighborhood committee will check on the frequency of disinfections in the store and to make sure that there are not too many people, according to Wang.

Li Yuanfeng, a 65-year-old retired teacher from a nearby community, said he was glad he could finally get a haircut on the special day at YesFashion. He wore a two-layer face mask throughout the process.

With several confirmed cases identified earlier at residential communities in his neighborhood, he said, "I was very worried about going out for a haircut, but the hair length pushed me to do so."

Another customer surnamed Gao also talked about how important getting a haircut was.

"I will go to work soon, and getting a haircut is a must for me now as I am going to meet my colleagues," said the 40-year-old IT worker, who wore a thin mask to the barbershop.

Gao said his son also needs to get a haircut, but staying at home is a much safer choice for him.

"His grandma will give him a trim at home today as the day matters more to the older generation," Gao said.

Since the outbreak of the virus, the younger people in China have started to learn to cut their hair themselves at home. Electric clippers have also become sought-after items.

An online store owner said that within one month the sales volume of clippers manufactured by the store had reached over 100,000, with supplies occasionally going out of stock. Netizens posted videos online showing how they use bowls to cut their hair efficiently.

To help prevent infection, some traditional salons downtown on Monday set up solitary rooms, so one customer at a time can get a haircut.

"As demand surges, we will consider making appointments more efficient and effective," said Wang, the barbershop manager. "But ensuring hygiene and safety at the barber shop is always our first concern."

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