THEY fought to retain their dignity but their pain was all too evident in their voices when they spoke to Newsday, a hairdresser in Port of Spain and a barber in Curepe, each now seeing tough times in the covid19 lockdown.
Hairdressers, nail technicians, make-up artists and barbers have not yet been allowed to open for business by Government. In fact, Government has indicated that these businesses would be among the last to open because close contact is needed to perform such services.
"My concern is being able to pay my shop rent," the hairdresser told Newsday.
Given the economic lull even before the lockdown, she said business has gone from bad to worse.
"Even when I open back, I'm not sure how I'll pay the rent even if they give me a deferral. It has been really stressful. But I'll give it a try."
However she was worried many of her clients who are elderly will be afraid to visit her for fear of contracting covid19 for which older people are more vulnerable.
"I will not lie. I am feeling a bit emotional. I'm feeling anxiety, unease and uncertainty."
She did not see the sense in letting fast-food outlets open while curbing hair salons.
"Won't fast-food places encourage people to hang out in their cars, yet businesses like my salon can let in people just three at a time while the others sit outside. We'll work by appointment too. What's the difference? You'll still have all these people congregating at the fast food shops."
She said otherwise she has seen many vendors selling on the streets such as people selling vegetables from vans.
"On Saturday at the grocery people were outside selling teddy bears! In fact we had to turn back as there was so much traffic. People want to make a little money."
She hoped for an ease up on her monthly saloon rent.
"I hope they can take into consideration that we didn't work for this period of time and waiver some of the rent, at least until we get back on our feet. And when we get back out, it will not be a busy flow. People may be scared to come out. One elderly male client told me he is going nowhere, as he is in a state of paranoia."
Barber Sherwin Jones of Curepe told Newsday, "We can't do anything. We are a close-contact activity, so we are a no-no.
"It is making life very difficult for us. It seems it will not be over for us any time soon. They eased the lockdown to some extent but we were not included. We'll be under pressure for some time."
He said some barbers may try to take one or two house calls just to try to stay afloat.
"So far one or two clients will call to offer some sort of assistance, a few dollars, or goods or groceries. The situation for us now is detrimental. One of my good clients called and offered me a hamper. We are under pressure, serious pressure."
Jones said not many barbers own their own homes, so they also have to pay rent for their residences plus their barbershops.
"We have rents to pay and that is just accumulating."
He said he understood what the Government has had to do, but would still like an "ease-up" for barbers.
"Allow us to function, taking precautions, one client at a time. To lock us off totally is unnecessary. Why not take the necessary precautions for now and allow us to function?"