BEAUTY salon owners in Ledbury say they have been "crippled" by the government's last-minute decision not to allow them to carry out facial treatments.

Beauticians in the town were all set to welcome back customers for services such as eyebrow and eyelash treatments on Saturday August 1 but, just one day before, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pulled the plug, announcing that the easing of restrictions would be postponed for "at least a fortnight".

This left salon staff rushing to cancel appointments and put staff who were due to return back on furlough.

Aimee Howard, a business owner at Beautifique in Bank Crescent, Ledbury, said: “It has crippled me as 70 per cent of the shop’s revenue comes from facial treatments and with the latest government information, I’m unable to do them.

“We’ve put lots of things in place to make it safe, including screens over the couch, cleaning between every client and PPE.

“I feel the government isn’t taking the industry seriously, not realising just how clean and hygienic we are. I’m left feeling very disappointed about the whole thing.”

Lisa Marshall, who runs Marshall Hair and Beauty in The Homend, was equally upset.

She said: “The majority of our income comes from facial treatments and in 30 years of working in the industry, I never thought they’d be a time when I couldn’t do what I love.

"I feel bereft as human communication is all about touch and it makes people feel better.

“I’ve not been able to sleep very well over the last couple of days, worrying about the unknown and what could or could not happen.

“I can still offer a massage service and help with the hair side of what we do, but, to be honest, if we didn’t have that aspect, it would be a struggle to survive.

“We take all the precautions and the industry is regulated. How come pubs and shops get to remain open?

“When doing a facial, the person giving the treatment sits behind the client, so the risk is low, so what is the issue?”

Tessa Oakley, who owns Elements Beauty Spa in Homend Crescent, was also worried about her business' future.

“As a widowed, single parent with three kids, I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the bills," she said.

“I’ve run this business in the town for 12 years and I started it during a recession so I’m used to a fight, but the government’s change in direction has hit us hard as an industry in Ledbury.”

Caroline Green, chair of the Ledbury Traders Association, said: “The government has a fine line to balance but it’s a shame for the businesses in the town at the moment who are going through a hard time, and having been allowed to re-open just a couple of weeks ago to now be given this news, is very sad indeed.”

While many beauty salons in England were allowed to reopen from July 13, restrictions remained in place for "particularly high-risk services".

Treatments close to the face such as facial waxing, sugaring, eyebrow and eyelash treatments, facials and make-up application were deemed high-risk and not allowed as part of the initial opening.

Beauty salons had been told these services would be allowed to resume from August 1 but on Friday, Mr Johnson said the changes would be postponed for "at least a fortnight".

Critics of this decision say it is sexist that barbers are allowed to offer beard grooming but beauticians cannot perform facial treatments for women.