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Ross-shire beautician vows to work on amid hard-hitting impact of 'confusing' Covid-19 guidance


By Alasdair Fraser

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Janie MacAskill is highlighting confusion over Covid-19 rules and has vowed to keep operating, insistingPicture: Callum Mackay
Janie MacAskill is highlighting confusion over Covid-19 rules and has vowed to keep operating, insistingPicture: Callum Mackay

A ROSS-SHIRE beautician is vowing to defy Covid-19 guidelines and keep offering treatments that require customers to remove face masks.

Janie Macaskill, who runs Perfection by Janie in Dingwall, received a warning from Highland Council’s environmental health team two weeks ago, after being reported by a member of the public.

But the 38-year-old claims unfair, confused and constantly changing Scottish Government rules are making a mockery of her profession.

After rule tweaks in Scotland in October, customers of “close contact” services such as hairdressers, tattoo artists and beauticians must wear face masks at all times.

Only beautician practices classed as having medical qualifications can continue treatments requiring removal of masks, so long as they are registered with NHS body Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Ms Macaskill, a qualified former dental nurse of 20 years’ experience, says she has spent thousands of pounds in gaining expert industry qualifications while building up a clientèle of over 300 in just over a year in full-time business.

“I don’t want to scrounge off the government. I want to work, and there are a lot of people who want to come to me for treatment. I operate in one of the most hygienic industries around with full PPE – mask, visor, apron and gloves." - Janie Macaskill

Adhering to the recent rule changes would savage her 60-hour working week by preventing her from treating distressing skin problems like scarring and acne.

That would leave her with an average of just six hours a week work on minor beauty treatments, such as eyebrows and lashes.

Ms Macaskill, originally from Strathpeffer, said: “I’m actually continuing to work, probably illegally, but I don’t care if people know that because I need to make a living. I have a teenage daughter to support, essentials like a car and mortgage.

“I’m going to keep working. If they persecute me, they’re going to have to persecute everybody within the industry.

“I don’t want to scrounge off the government. I want to work, and there are a lot of people who want to come to me for treatment. I operate in one of the most hygienic industries around with full PPE – mask, visor, apron and gloves.

“The irony is, within the rules, I could take a customer to the pub and give them a facial. Why can’t I do it in a safe environment at my home?”

Ms Macaskill set up the business three years ago at her Bridgend Court home on a part-time basis, but gave up dental nursing as her sideline grew in popularity.

She treats many people with anxiety over skin conditions, offering remedies such as micro-needling, chemical peels, derma-planing, micro-dermabrasion, facials and facial filler.

Perfection By Janie closed from March to September, but as lockdown eased Ms Macaskill sought advice from her insurers.

She said: “They told me that I was covered to take a mask off somebody as, through my dental nurse qualifications, I was classed as being of a medical background. Then, two weeks ago, I had a phone call from environmental health to say I’d been reported for working outwith the guidelines which changed the Friday before.

“I think people should have the choice. Covid isn’t going anywhere. We’re in tier one and they need to cut us a bit of slack.

“There is real confusion in the rules. Everything seems to change every five minutes.

“Where somebody is registered with Health Improvement Scotland, they can take masks off. But we do exactly the same treatments. Covid doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t going to avoid a doctor’s client and target mine.”

Highland Council’s environmental health manager Alan Yates said: “We are aware of a number of concerns surrounding the interpretation of the Scottish Government Covid advice for this business sector.

“In response to these concerns, the Scottish Government published a frequently asked questions guidance (which) makes it clear that operators cannot ask a customer to remove their face covering to undertake a treatment.

“This means those treatments should not be offered or carried out.

“While beauty therapists are able to operate, the current professional advice is that, for safety reasons, close contact services should not be performed where face coverings cannot be worn.

“We would urge all businesses to follow the Scottish Government advice.”



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