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COVID-19: Revenue at Taipei salons plummet 70% during alert

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Gyms have also faced losses, with Taipei Gym saying it would close one of its locations, while World Gym tries online classes

Revenues at hair salons in Taipei have declined 70 percent under a prolonged level 3 COVID-19 alert, an association for hairdressers and cosmetologists said on Tuesday, calling for government help to support workers.

The alert was first applied to Taipei and New Taipei City on May 15, and four days later it was expanded to the entire nation. On Monday, the Executive Yuan announced that the alert would be extended until June 28.

The government does not require that hair and beauty salons close, but asks that their employees wear masks, register clients’ contact information, check people’s temperatures and regularly disinfect their hands.

However, many Taipei salons have suspended operations out of fear of virus transmission due to employees’ close contact with clients.

Although hairdressers do not touch clients’ faces and have adopted preventive measures, revenues at hair salons have fallen 70 percent, said Chen Kuei-mei (陳貴梅), secretary-general of a union representing hairdressers and cosmetologists.

Salons have to pay rent and utility bills even without clients, while stylists, who rely on commission from their work, cannot make a living without clients, she said.

Chen called on the government to support the industry’s workers by providing subsidies or loans to help them get through the pandemic.

Many fitness clubs have also suspended operations since last month. Taipei Gym on May 25 announced that its stores on Taipei’s Xinsheng S Road Sec 3 and in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) would be temporarily closed until Monday next week.

However, the gym last week announced that due to the pandemic, it would close its Xinsheng location at the end of the month, adding that paid members could apply for refunds until July 31.

Having operated for more than a decade, Taipei Gym counted Taiwanese weightlifter and Olympic gold medalist Hsu Shu-ching (許淑淨) among its customers.

Another fitness chain, World Gym, said it was looking to transform its operations amid the pandemic. It provides free online courses through Facebook and YouTube, while its members can book one-on-one training courses at discounted prices, it said.

The gym still has to pay rent for various locations, even if all employees work from home, it said.

Its members might not immediately return to the gym even after operations resume, it said, adding that it needs assistance to help employees receive relief funds from the Sports Administration.

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