THE owner of a Basingstoke salon has aired her frustration after losing half her bookings following yesterday’s announcement regarding the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Laura Haystaff who owns The Topiary Salon in Old Basing and Houndmills, had just 12 hours’ notice yesterday to cancel bookings, after expecting to be able to offer beauty treatments from today.

The salon had numerous bookings for facials and eye treatments, after the prime minister Boris Johnson initially told salons and spas on July 17 that remaining close contact beauty services could resume on August 1.

However, yesterday he made a U-turn on that decision at lunchtime, postponing the reopening of remaining beauty services until August 15 at the earliest, as he puts lockdown easing on hold.

The delay also means that venues such as casinos and bowling alleys will have to wait at least another two weeks before reopening.

Laura, whose salons have been running for 16 years in the town, told the Gazette she had taken staff off furlough leave after booking customers for various beauty treatments from today.

The 38-year-old said: “With less than 12 hours’ notice, you can understand why we are upset and disappointed. It means cancelling all our facials and eye treatment appointments. It also means our beauty team have huge gaps in their bookings.”

She added: “We do have other services to fall back on, but we are running a restricted menu and can no longer offer facials and eye lashes, so we have taken a hit. I feel for those who only offer services that can’t operate.

“I have two beauty therapists full time, so I have been able to use the furlough scheme. But I brought them back from furlough leave and now have two or three days where my staff don’t have any bookings. I don’t want to heavily discount my services.”

Laura is frustrated, because she believes places such as beauty salons are already hygienic and therefore potentially safer than pubs and restaurants, explaining: “Apart from introducing visors or masks our practice hasn’t really changed. We have always sanitised so from our perspective I feel we are one of the safest industries. You see in pubs and restaurants social distancing can go out of the window, so it does frustrate me, and I have to bite my tongue a little.

“It’s companies like our small business, there’s less than 15 of us, who really do feel the knock-on effect.”

Laura said she was initially cautious about reopening the hair salon when lockdown restrictions were eased, and waited two weeks after being allowed to reopen to make sure that bookings didn’t end up being cancelled.

“When Boris said August 1 for close contact beauty treatments it seemed like it was set in stone, so I took bookings. The timing of stopping this was insensitive because it was so last minute,” she said.