Do we need a booking, or can we still walk in?
At The Hoi Polloi we ran predominantly on bookings before, so that is still the best option. We have an online booking platform that lets you see all the barbers' availability and is super easy to navigate. If you are walking by, and there is a barber free, then we will definitely get you in however, all contact details must be taken to adhere to government guidelines with regards to track and trace.
How far in advance should bookings be made?
For the first few weeks the earlier the better. As you can imagine there’s a backlog of people waiting to get their hair done. Normally we would suggest a week in advance for prime spots, or a couple of days if you are more flexible with time.
What kind of new formalities can we expect on our visit?
There are lots, starting with a temperature check on entry and wearing a mask. We have also moved to disposable gowns and towels to minimise any cross contamination. Your barber will look a fair bit different now too, visors, face masks and gloves are the 'new normal' for the time being. We have also invested in an extra set of tools for each barber and a UV sanitiser box. That means a completely sterile set of equipment for every new customer. We are also lucky in the fact we have a good amount of space. Our sections are well spaced out and we will be running a one way system to prevent customers crossing over on the way in and on the way out.
How do barbers/hairdressers adhere to the one metre rule?
In short we can’t. We can minimise as much risk as possible with all of the extra hygiene measures and PPE. But, we can keep social distancing between customers. For that we have closed our waiting area and bathroom for the time being. We have also extended each appointment by 15 minutes (so you’ll have one hour for a haircut) to make sure there is plenty of time to clean, and avoid cross overs with other customers entering and exiting.
What about social distancing between chairs?
We have had to remove one chair to allow for this. With that removed our sections are 2.3 metres apart, so we have plenty of space in between. Some smaller shops have had to install screens in between sections to meet the guidelines.
Can customers still get all kinds of styles and cuts as they could prior to lockdown?
Yes, we can still cut your hair however you want and if you have let it go for the last 15 weeks then there will be plenty for us to get creative with! We are also still doing beard trims. The only service we have removed is our shave service.
Did you have any kinds of crazy requests from customers for 'underground' cuts during lockdown?
We had everything from people offering crazy money to come round to cut it, to video calls guiding through partners and family on how to fix what they have done. I think my personal favourite was guiding someone through how to cut their own mullet – as you can imagine the outcome was striking.
With a trip to the barbers known to be quite social, do you think PPE and masks might change that now? And how do you feel about that?
There will be certain elements that will be lost. The barbershop is its best when it’s full of people having a good time. But, the one-on-one conversations are great too. I have met some incredible people whilst cutting their hair and all of us at The Hoi Polloi are looking forward to seeing some regular faces again. I feel like when you get on the seat it is a special time to relax, and that will still be the same. Throughout this whole pandemic people have had to adapt to change and with that there will always be some negatives but also you find new positives.
Nun Street, Newcastle upon Tyne