The Novel Coronavirus is a serious issue that many are worried about, and for good reason: many of the world’s leading infectious disease experts predict that the virus spreading from Wuhan is now likely to become a pandemic that circles the globe.
While many aspects of the Novel Coronavirus are still unclear, human-to-human transmission has been confirmed – the virus is believed that to spread through air droplets expelled when an infected individual coughs or sneezes.
Beauty services in spas and salons often require a high level of physical contact between therapists and customers in a confined space over a long duration, which begets a question that may have been bugging many beauty junkies: is it still safe to go for your usual facials and massages during the virus outbreak?
What the Ministry says about the virus outbreak
As of 10 February 2020, the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) Level, which shows the current disease level, is orange.
This indicates that the disease is severe and spreads easily from person to person but is:
- but has not spread widely in Singapore
- being contained
According to the framework, extreme social distancing is not required as of now (moderate disruption on daily life). However, large-group and communal activities have been suspended at schools and eldercare facilities since 4 February 2020, and as of 6 February 2020, the public has to comply with control measures (e.g. quarantine, temperature screening, visitor restrictions at hospitals).
While the Ministry of Health has not set any strict rules for salons to abide by, everyone (including salons and consumers) is strongly urged to practise good hygiene habits during their facials and massages, as per the advisory that they have released. These include:
- Avoiding crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness;
- Observing good personal hygiene;
- Practising frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing);
- Wearing a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose;
- Covering your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and disposing the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; and
- Seeking medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell.
Precautionary measures by spas & salons
Although there are no hard and fast rules to check if a beauty salon has adequate precautions in place, you are still highly encouraged to check with your facial or massage place on precautionary measures that they have put in place. This not only gives you the ease of mind, but also prevents any possible scenarios where you may be refused entry.
We spoke to established local beauty salons (Estetica, Porcelain, and IDS Aesthetics) to find out more about what they are currently doing for their staff and customers:
Estetica has shared the following advisory on Facebook and Instagram, as well as in an EDM sent out to all customers:
They have informed all customers that none of the staff has been to China in the past 30 days.
Additionally, Estetica has put in place the following precautionary measures for their staff with immediate effect:
- Increase frequency of hand washing with anti-bacterial soap and/or disinfecting with hand sanitiser
- Increase frequency of cleaning and disinfecting all work stations and all treatment rooms
- A face mask will be worn at all times
To ensure the safety and well-being of staff and customers, Estetica reserves the right to refuse customers who have recently come back from China or are feeling unwell or show any symptoms of illness.
Beauticians are also proactively reaching out to the customers with upcoming appointments via calls and texts to check on their travel history and health status.
The team at Porcelain has undertaken measures since resuming operations on 30 January 2020 from the Lunar New Year break.
To ensure the health and wellbeing of all clients and staff, they have implemented the following practices:
- Stepping up on their cleaning frequency, with thorough wipe downs of all equipment and common surface areas using hospital-grade disinfectants
- Hand sanitisers will be placed around the spas for usage before and after treatments
- All Porcelain staff who have recently returned from their travels will be monitored. Any staff with fever and/or display any respiratory symptoms will not be allowed to perform any treatments
- All guests coming for treatments are required to have their temperatures taken. Anyone with temperatures above 37.5 degrees Celsius will be required to reschedule their appointment
In light of the Coronavirus, IDS Aesthetics has put up a health advisory notice at all counters:
- Customers are required to inform staff if they have:
- Cough, fever, or shortness of breath OR
- Travelled to mainland China within the last 30 days OR
- Had close contact with a person with 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection
They also have a compulsory questionnaire that all patients must fill in before receiving any treatment. This is to ensure that there is no contact with anyone who is at risk.
So, is it still safe to go for massages and facials?
The Ministry of Health urges Singaporeans to remain calm and vigilant: there is currently no need to panic about the possible spread of viruses in your beauty salons, so you can still go ahead with that facial appointment if you wish.
However, you also have the responsibility as a customer to check that proper hygiene practices are carried out. If you notice that your therapist or beautician shows signs of illness or have not washed their hands before starting the treatment, do highlight the problem immediately.
In addition, if you are not feeling well or have reason to suspect that you may be infected with the Novel Coronavirus, refrain from going for your massage or facial even if your service provider does not actively refuse unwell customers.