The government of Dubai has announced that spas and massage centres across the emirate can now open for business following the coronavirus lockdown on 15 March.
It revealed the news on 3 July in its Next Phase of Reopening plans, with facilities being able to open on 4 July. Spas in the list include those inside hotels and malls as well as independent sites offering spa and massage services. For the time being, however, thermal suites with steamrooms, saunas and spa baths etc must remain closed.
The plans include detailed protocols and restrictions around hygiene and sanitisation, employee guidelines, COVID-19 screening and emergency planning, capacity and physical distancing and facility restrictions.
In the measures, both staff and visitors are obliged to wear masks at all times and employees are encouraged to wear gloves. There will also be mandatory contactless temperature screening for staff, guests, visitors and contractors. Treatment rooms and equipment such as hot stones and face cradle covers must be cleaned and disinfected after each use and between clients and it’s advised that facilities assign a ‘hygiene champion’ to supervise daily and continuous cleaning. A full breakdown of the requirements can be found here
The next phase of reopening permitted by the government also includes indoor theme parks, the rental of sports facilities, recreational activities such a funfairs, arcades and soft play centres, along with summer camps.
The move to finally reopen spas is very much welcomed by all throughout the industry and follows a letter submitted to the Dubai Economic Department, the Department of Tourism, Commerce & Marketing and the Department of Health & Safety by a group of key spa influencers in late June.
In the letter the group, co-headed by spa consultant Daniella Russell of DR Global, proposed a comprehensive set of COVID-19-safety spa sanitisation guidelines it compiled to show the departments how prepared the sector was for reopening.
The free guidelines can be accessed via this link
and Russell says they’ve been “flying off the digital shelf”.
Russell explains the achievements are testament to the group which consisted of a mix of spa owners and operators and hotel spa teams. It was also backed by independent spa supporters such as herself, Kathryn Moore of Spa Connectors, Salina Handa of Sensasia, Christian Kiefer of Rayya Wellness and Maria Dowling of Mariadowling salons.
“We are ecstatic to re-open after such a long time out of action,” she told Spa Business
. “The spa teams are excited, well prepared and elated to be returning to work and back to caring for their clients.
“The strangest part has been that, as an industry, we’ve always maintained very strict sanitisation and hygiene measures. They were was always a hidden part of our daily tasks but now we’re proudly sharing our protocols with clients to ensure they feel safe and secure.”
Beauty salons and hairdressers were allowed to reopen in Dubai in late May and Russell says they were “inundated with customers”, especially those looking for maintenance services such as hair cuts and manicures.
To gauge the interest in spa services, Russell carried out her own poll based on 100 spa and fitness users. It revealed that the majority of people want to visit spas as soon as they reopen and that customers would feel most safe having a massage when facilities do reopen, followed by a facial and taking part in fitness classes. They were least comfortable with trying out heat experiences, waxing and other body therapies.
When asked what sanitisation measures they expect to see, the top three requests were easy access to hand sanitisers, fresh sanitised linen or disposable linen and staff wearing face masks.
During lockdown, the survey showed that spa-goers sought wellbeing advice from educational webinars and meditation and were more likely to manage during lockdown with products they already had at home rather than buy products online.
Russell concludes: “After only days of being open again, spas are seeing an extreme demand for appointments. The booking procedures, staggered access times and complete sanitisation of spa areas between clients are being carefully managed and all is going well.
“Internationally, spa and massage has been one of the last sectors to open yet it’s important to stress that COVID-19 cannot enter the body through the skin.”