Latvian hairdressers trim hair on frozen lakes and snow-covered forests to protest Covid lockdown restrictions

Latvian hairdressers trim hair on frozen lakes and snow-covered forests to protest Covid lockdown restrictions

HAIRDRESSERS IN Latvia have found an interesting way to protest Covid-19 restrictions– by giving haircuts in snow covered forests or on frozen lakes.

"We cannot work otherwise," hairdresser Diana Silina told AFP as she prepared her equipment to give a haircut on top of an iced-over lake close to the Latvian capital, Riga.

All grooming venues, including hairdressing and spa salons, have been forced to close in Latvia since 21 December and outdoor meetings are confined to a maximum of two people.

So, in keeping with the letter of the law, hairdressers are only taking one client at a time-- outdoors, in sub-zero temperatures.

"We don't know whether even this way is fully legal, but we must try, otherwise we have no income at all," Silina said.

The hairdresser said that her boyfriend was supporting her financially and didn’t want her to risk being slapped with a €500 fine, recently introduced in Latvia to deter people from breaking the rules.

Some local authorities have shown support for the initiative, such as Riga city councillor Ieva Brante, who also posted a picture of herself getting her hair done in the middle of a forest where she said the police would not patrol.

"Being a lawyer, I support people finding legal ways around regulations, if that allows them to work and earn their living," she wrote on Facebook, adding on Twitter that she had been contacted by police over her haircut.

Brante told AFP that she was later contacted by police but had not received a fine. Senior government officials also seem sympathetic to the idea, as Health Minister Daniels Pavluts reportedly said: "Getting your hair done in the forest is absolutely OK!".

The pressure is piling on the authorities to let salons get back to work, as two professional associations of beauticians and hairdressers have threatened to sue the government in the Constitutional Court if they are not allowed to resume operating in some way.

"The decision to ban our services was taken without consulting us and without statistics which would show that hairdressing spreads Covid-19," the associations' leaders Sabine Ulberte and Renate Reinsone wrote in a statement.

The move comes in the wake of a legal challenge launched by the Book Publishers Association – which resulted in the reopening of bookshops in Latvia earlier this week after no evidence was found to link in-person visits to bookshops with coronavirus transmission.

Latvian parliament is due to convene a special session to discuss the issue after a petition to allow hairdressers and other beauty professionals to return to work garnered 10,000 signatures.