FRUSTRATED beauty businesses fearing for their future were dealt a major blow after the Government halted plans to allow remaining close-contact services to resume.

The services – including eyebrow threading and facial treatments – were set to be permitted from Saturday, August 1.

But the move has been postponed for at least a fortnight amid fears over a surge in coronavirus cases in some parts of England.

Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close-contact services must now remain closed until August 15 at the earliest.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, with the numbers creeping up, the Government believes it should squeeze the brake pedal to keep the virus under control.

The news came as a devastating blow to Elite Aesthetics in the town centre, on Horsemarket Street.

Manager Jodie Knight was critical over the lack of notice that was provided to companies.

“It is just a nightmare,” she said.

“We have students booked in, clients booked in, all ready for this week.

“We have gone from having nine courses booked in to having two that we can do, so it has been a bit of a pain.”

It has been a very difficult period for Elite Aesthetics, with Jodie saying it has only managed to stay afloat thanks to the wholesale side of the company.

She said: “They are telling us they are going to review it on the 15th, in all honesty I don’t reckon we are going to get anything until, following the trends that we’ve had so far, the 24th.

“We were ready, we had everything all in, we even had it repainted ready so everything was all fresh and brand new.

“We have had weekly deep cleans, we have had to do a risk assessment and we have had to buy in special PPE – we have had to do quite a bit to be fair.

“As we are a clinical setting, we are probably one of the cleanest businesses in Warrington.

“We have all the sanitisers and masks in place ready to go.”

Ahead of the announcement regarding close-contact services, Labour’s Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols had expressed concerns to the Government on behalf of beauty firms fearing for their future.

Warrington Guardian:

MP Charlotte Nichols

Ms Nichols has been speaking with a number of salon owners in her constituency and visiting sites.

While those she spoke to were glad to be permitted to reopen last month, many made it clear that the ongoing restrictions on specific treatments could make their salons unviable.

In particular, they said that the continuing prohibitions on lashes, facials, brow and lash treatments and skin treatments such as micro-needling, dermabrasion and skin peels, which make up as much as 90 per cent of the custom of some of these salons, left them in a state of limbo.

The politician has vowed to continue to liaise with beauty owners over the coming months to help get them the support they need to see their businesses thrive.

Mr Johnson said most people in the country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus.

But he urged people to keep their discipline and not be complacent.

“I have asked the home secretary to work with the police and others to ensure the rules which are already in place are properly enforced,” he said.

“That means local authorities acting to close down premises and cancel events which are not following Covid secure guidance.”

Taco Bar and Kitchen near the town centre, on Church Street, was among the hundreds of companies that reopened in July as the borough’s hospitality industry started to rebuild following the damage caused by coronavirus.

The establishment is currently focusing on its bar, with the kitchen planned to open by the end of this month.

Owner Jim Burrows said: “I’ve actually found it’s been quite steady.

“Instead of everyone coming in on the weekend, my midweek trade is probably up from before lockdown.

“I think people are just enjoying being back out and just being able to go out.

“Obviously there is no drinking at the bar area, we have the register for the Track and Trace, table service, a lot of hand sanitiser points around the building and we have had to reduce capacity.

“I am really only working probably about maybe two thirds capacity, depending on what groups are coming in and whether I can sit more people if they are all in one household and certain things like that.”

Taco Bar and Kitchen received financial support during the Covid-19 crisis after securing a grant, with Jim thanking the Government and council for their crucial help.

“To be honest if I hadn’t of got that, I would have really struggled to reopen,” he said.

“Being such a new business, I only opened in January, so I only had a couple of months before it hit.

“The Government and the council have been really good with it, I can’t really fault them.

“I’ve never known anything like it. I think if some places had to close and some hadn’t it would have affected those places worse because it’s hard to get custom back once you’ve lost it.

“But with everyone being in the same boat, everybody knew we didn’t have a choice about it.”

Jim also discussed his concerns over the prospect of a second Covid-19 wave.

He said: “It’s obviously always in the back of my mind but there is nothing we can really do about it apart from follow the measures that are in place.”

A former council leader believes coronavirus-related financial support will give businesses battling to survive ‘breathing space’.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Ian Marks, who was the leader between 2006 and 2011, says the Government has acted quickly to support companies.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Ian Marks

“This was welcome given its free market instincts,” he said.

“There was cross-party consensus that the state had to use its powers, finances and authority to avert an economic catastrophe.

“However, spraying money all over the place was easy.

“How the country emerges from the crisis is far more difficult with widespread fears about second waves.

“The economy will struggle to recover for a long while and every day sees more businesses closing down and jobs being lost.”

But Cllr Marks expressed concerns over those who have fallen through the gap of financial help.

He added: “It is estimated that 10 per cent of the workforce has been excluded from support schemes.

“Losers are the newly-self-employed, PAYE freelancers and the self-employed who have earned more than £50,000 profits.

“Furlough must remain open to businesses in areas with new stricter restrictions or local lockdown.

“In Warrington, council officers led by the chief executive have done a great job in responding to various Government initiatives.

“Multi-agency working has been a success in combating Covid-19.

“Financial support has been given to a range of businesses like the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

“Whether this is sufficient to ensure long-term survival is another matter, but at least it has given them breathing space.”

Meanwhile, a business preparing to open up in Warrington Market hopes the Time Square site will be the start of something very special for the town.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Market

Optometrist Maskell and Josephson, which has a practice in Altrincham, is scheduled to open its new store at the end of this month.

Owner Anthony Josephson is looking forward to it.

He said: “Effectively, we have got everything ordered to come in – the investment to set up an opticians to the calibre that we are doing is close to about a quarter of a million pounds.

“As soon as it is all delivered and ready to go, we are ready to go.

“I had never thought of expanding the business to a second site because Altrincham and the practice has a certain feel that is very difficult to replicate anywhere else and it won’t be an exact replica in Warrington.”

The new market, which opened last month, has cost the borough council £11 million but Anthony believes it is great investment.

He added: “I’m not ashamed to say, as I live in Altrincham, that the Warrington Market has taken all the good points of Altrincham and made it even better.

“The actual environment of the market suits us very well and it looks really cool – and hopefully it’s the beginning of something very, very special for the town.”