UPDATE WITH DETAILS FROM INTERIOR MINISTRY'S STATEMENT
By Kaan Bozdogan
ISTANBUL (AA) – Barbershops across Turkey will reopen next week after a 50-day hiatus as part of the country's measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Earlier this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outlined the country's normalization schedule, saying it would go ahead step by step.
The country's Interior Ministry allowed barbershops, beauty salons and hairdressers to begin work as of May 11, with customers to be served via appointments.
Staff will use disposable towels and aprons, as well as face masks, while serving customers, who will be allowed to take their masks off depending on the service.
Sukru Akyuz, the head of a barber's association in Istanbul, told Anadolu Agency that the lockdown period reasserted the importance of the profession.
Hair salons were closed in Turkey on March 21.
Noting that hairdressers are happy to be back in business, he said they saw tough times which have burned a hole in their pocket.
He went on to say that during the lockdown some hairdressers illegally opened their shops, while others went to people's home to sustain a livelihood.
"At the moment, there is a surge of appointments at the shops," he said, adding the first four days after opening are fully booked at most hair salons.
Noting that they will take all necessary precautions, Aykuz said only half the number of seats at the shop will be occupied at a time.
The association is looking into creating a mobile app so that people can schedule appointments.
"We have sent requests to municipalities regarding disinfection of all barbershops. Barbers will also take great responsibility in this process."
He said seats will be disinfected after catering to a customer and equipment will be sterilized.
Instead of cloth towels, he said, they will use anti-bacterial wipes.
Shaving at the barbershop is banned for now, he said, adding that this measure will stay in place until the outbreak ends.
He went on to say barbers are expected not to raise prices.
As of Wednesday, Turkey reported a total of 131,744 coronavirus cases and 78,202 of them have fully recovered. The country's death toll stands at 3,584.
After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.
The pandemic has killed over 260,000 worldwide, with total infections more than 3.7 million, while recoveries surpassed 1.2 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev and Havva Kara Aydin