SOME hair salons across Bendigo are choosing to close their doors from Thursday after the federal government imposed new COVID-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday night said hairdressers could remain open, but clients would only be allowed to stay in the salon for 30 minutes and all staff would need to practice social distancing.
Jools for Jim director Jill Cantwell said her salons - which include the Royal Jim's Barber shops - would close because the restrictions were near impossible to work with.
"I felt that my first priority was to look after my team," she said. "It no longer felt right to be open.
"What I couldn't understand is that if it wasn't safe to be there for 45 minutes, why was it safe to be there for 30 minutes?
"If the government isn't clear about the message, we need to be. We all need to stay home."
Neon Peach was also closing from Thursday. Salon manager Chloe Harrison said the government's new restrictions were simply unviable.
"It would just make our lives 10 times harder," she said. "It's not really possible when 90 per cent of your clients are colour clients and their appointments take up to three hours or more.
"It just wasn't worth staying open if we can't do our clients' hair."
Red Raven Studio owner Lauren McIlrath said her salon would stay open for the rest of the week, unless advised by the government.
But Ms McIlrath said she had hoped for a stronger stance from Mr Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, especially considering personal services like beauty therapy and waxing were closed down.
"I think if you are going to shut down beauty, you need to shut down hair," she said.
"We lean over people at the basin. Even though we're facing the back of people's hair most of the time, we still go to the front of a person's face. Where do you draw the line?
"We're not an essential service. That's what I don't get. They say we're an essential service but then they don't let us do our job properly."
Ms McIlrath said her salon would be open until at least Friday.
"My staff are my priority," she said. "The longer I keep them employed, the better.
"If we shut down without the mandatory direction from the government, we actually lose a lot of access to things like rental help and other benefits.
"We're already down at least 50 per cent of income, which is basically just covering wages and not much else."
Ms McIlrath said state and federal governments needed to be stronger.
"Just shut us down," she said. "That's what we're waiting for.
"There is so much anxiety at the moment. Staff are anxious because there is no clear answer from the government.
"I feel like I'm not doing my job right because there is no clear answer. I should be leading them but I can't give them any answers. It's frustrating."
Ms Cantwell said all businesses were prioritising the health of their staff and clients at the moment.
"We all want to do the right thing," she said. "It's very unprecedented. My advice to all our team is to really look after each other and spend time with family.
"I want us to be well at the end of it - that has to be the ultimate priority. This closure is to ensure we have a great future and we can get back to work at the end of it."