Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Auckland barbers and hairdressers re-open after three months

Aucklanders got to go to the barbers and hairdressers this week after closing for months due to the Covid-19 lockdown. While it was a relief for many, it was also a test of the new My Vaccine Pass. John Pulu decided to head along to his regular Auckland barber for a haircut… and this story.

John Pulu | Presenter/ Reporter/Director | Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The sound of clippers and scissors fill the Cold Classics barbershop once again after closing for more than three months.

The Auckland shop owner, Anthony Apelu, has been looking forward to returning to work.

“You watch the updates every day hoping for the best, and then, you know, for so many weeks we didn’t get the news we wanted. That’s how it is. But yeah, happy man, happy to be back to work.”

But only the double-vaccinated are allowed. They show their ‘My Vaccine Pass’ on arrival, and customers must book in first; no walk-ins are allowed.

“We had to get the Verifier app and then download it and then get all the signage and stuff ready, get it printed, make sure all the boys were vaccinated, and yeah, just read up on the process, you know, how we can go about business,” Apelu says.

auckland barber opening after lockdown with my vaccine pass
John Pulu at Cold Classics barbershop. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

So far more than 1.7 million people have downloaded the vaccine pass since it went live a week ago.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined why they’ve chosen the barbers and hairdressers to open first.

“We’ve chosen hairdressers to trial vaccine passes because out of all the venues still closed, they pose the lowest risk by reopening. There are a few staff employed, generally numbers in this space are constrained by the number of chairs and hairdressers available, and distancing between customers can be easily maintained,” Ardern says.

Since the official announcement, Apelu has received lots of requests for haircuts.

“My phone went crazy pretty as soon the announcement was made. Yeah, I had close to a hundred notifications on the first day within the first couple of hours actually,” Apelu says.

auckland my vaccine pass signage
Hairdressers and barbers are the first to test the new My Vaccine Pass. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

After many DIY haircuts and YouTube barber videos, customers are relieved they don’t have to cut their hair at home anymore. One customer is glad to be back in the barber chair again.

“It was good to be at home, cos then you wouldn’t be embarrassed going out in public and seeing your wrongdoings on your head. So yeah, really happy that the boys are open up again.”

Although they only had a few days to prepare for reopening, the news has been a blessing in disguise for Halo Hair Salon in Papatoetoe, south of Auckland.

Marketing Manager Trevor Dunlop Tofa says it’s great to reunite with their customers.

“[For] a lot of these women, this is their one chance to get out of the house to do something for themselves,” Tofa says.

Halo Hair Salon in Tuakau south of auckland. Photo: Tagata Pasifika
Halo Hair Salon in Tuakau, south of Auckland. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

They are booked up until the end of January next year and so far adjusting to the rush to get through months’ worth of missed appointments.

“Our clients are our family, so we need to be able to ensure that we are for their safety. We are doing anything that we can so the whole team are fully vaccinated. The clients that do come through, we do ask that you are fully vaccinated as well. The staff are wearing masks. We have upped our cleaning schedules to make sure that after every single client there’s no cross contamination or anything,” Tofa says.

One of the first customers at the salon was excited she was able to secure a spot.

“I am very excited, you know. It’s good to be back to normality — you know, some sort of normality. Yeah, I just needed a pamper day.”

It’s a new normal bringing some relief to many in New Zealand’s biggest city.

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