In Britain, you still can’t get a haircut, but you can travel to France to get one.
Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually easing, but many Britons are confused about what they can and can’t do. And some are finding clever workarounds.
Our reporter Luke Hanrahan couldn’t get a haircut at a London salon. So he hopped onto a Eurostar train and headed to Paris for one. Eased travel restrictions meant he could, and after weeks of lockdown, he really needed one.
«What’s been very frustrating for people living in the UK are the apparent ambiguities within the new rules – contradictions that allow people to travel where they want to travel, as long as they’re not visiting people overnight,» Luke explains.
After just a few hours on the train, Luke could finally get his locks trimmed near the Gare du Nord in Paris, and head back to London – all within a few hours. It’s not the cheapest haircut he’ll ever have but it does the job.
France allowed hair salons to reopen on May 11, as long as hairdressers and customers wear masks and social distancing between clients is respected.
In the UK, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News last week that salons would not be opening until July 4 «at the very earliest».
People in England who cannot work from home are now being encouraged to return to business, but to avoid public transport. Travel restrictions have been eased, sunbathing and unlimited individual outdoor exercise are now allowed, and schools could reopen in June.
But the advice to stay at home remains in place in the rest of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and the divide has sparked both confusion and criticism.
«I don’t have a clue what’s going on»
Leading scientific experts say a loosened lockdown has come too soon.
«It seems to be driven politically to open up businesses. And the government have kind of left businesses to make their own decisions about what people should do and should not do. The government should be more direct,» said Gary McLean, a professor in molecular immunology for the School of Human Sciences at London Metropolitan University.
London hairdresser JR has no idea whether going back to work would mean breaking the rules.
«I’m raging, I’m furious. I don’t have a clue what’s going on – and I don’t think anyone has any idea,» he said.
«There’s been a lack of clarity on what you should do and I feel like the government is putting the pressure on people to make up their own minds as to what they should and shouldn’t do. There’s not been enough clear guidelines about what I’m allowed to do. Can I go to work?»
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged frustration over what he described as a «complex» easing of the coronavirus lockdown, suggesting more complicated messages were needed during the next phase of the response.
«I understand people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules,» Johnson wrote in an op-ed in the Mail on Sunday.
«I recognise what we are now asking is more complex than simply staying at home, but this is a complex problem and we need to trust in the good sense of the British people.»
In the meantime, Britons who can’t afford a trip to Paris to get their haircut will just have to be patient.
Watch Luke’s report in the video player above.