So eager was Marc Mauny to reopen his hair salon after nearly two months of lockdown that he threw open its doors at the stroke of midnight on Monday – and promptly received his first customer.
As France battled to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Mauny’s salon, in Mayenne, about 270 km (167 miles) west of Paris, had to close under a government order that allowed only food stores, tobacconists and pharmacies to keep trading.
A scheme to gradually relax the restrictions means that starting from May 11, other business can now re-open, providing they put in place safety precautions.
“I’m going to cut hair, I’m going to welcome people,” he said, just after opening. “Wow, I really want to.”
Hair salons are anticipating a rush of customers who have been waiting weeks to get a trim, or need a professional to repair the damage done by a do-it-yourself haircut performed at home.
Most stores re-opening on Monday kept to regular business hours. Not Mauny. “I like to be first,” he said.
His first post-lockdown customer, Caroline Corbeau, was ready for a new haircut. “I really needed it. It was great to have this opportunity,” she said.
Both she and Mauny wore facemasks and seat the and arm rests of the barber chair were covered in protective plastic.
Mauny said beyond providing a service, he wanted to send a message of hope.
“I think there’s a page of history that’s being turned. There’s been Spanish influenza, there’s been the Hong Kong flu, cholera, the plague, now we have the coronavirus,” he said. “We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re going there, we have to be positive.”