Hair and beauty salons are calling on the government to scrap plans for a five-customer cap when they reopen next month.
The Newcastle-based chief executive of the Australian Hairdressing Council, Sandy Chong, said the cap would hurt medium and large salons during a crucial month of trade after NSW hits its 70 per cent adult vaccination target in two weeks.
Ms Chong called on the government to allow salons to follow the four-square-metre rule which will apply to pubs, cafes and other indoor businesses.
"It's not viable," she said of the tighter restrictions on the industry. "A salon could be limited to five people while a pub the same size next door could have 45."
She said some salons had waiting lists of 300 clients and were keen to operate as much as possible in the busy pre-Christmas period.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said on Friday that economic and social activity should open to all once everyone had been given a chance to be vaccinated.
The government has not said whether the unvaccinated will be able to access businesses when NSW reaches 80 per cent adult vaccination.
Ms Chong said she hoped salons would be open to everyone sooner rather than later and was concerned staff would be subject to abuse from unvaccinated customers denied entry.
She said relatively low vaccination rates among staff could be a problem as many women of child-bearing age had been hesitant about vaccines, though a Melbourne Institute data tracker shows gender differences in hesitancy are disappearing.
The AHC has signed a letter with the Australian Workers Union and Aesthetic and Beauty Industry Council to Health Minister Brad Hazzard urging a bigger cap.
Shadow Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said hair and beauty had been among the first sectors to close and was now facing an unfair handbrake on trade.
"Implementing the four-square-metre rule to give the industry parity would go a long way to helping these businesses get back on their feet," she said.
Hunter New England Health recorded 38 COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 14 in Newcastle, eight in Lake Macquarie, seven in Cessnock, five in Maitland, two in Port Stephens and one each in MidCoast and Muswellbrook.
"People are getting together, not keeping to the distancing, taking their masks off, gathering particularly in indoor environments," Hunter public health controller Dr David Durrheim said.
The state recorded 1043 cases and 11 deaths.
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