French flock to hair salons before new lockdown takes effect

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PARIS (Reuters) - Hairdressers across France struggled to keep up with the constant stream of clients on Thursday, their last day of opening before a new lockdown goes into effect which will see them forced to close until Dec. 1.

The new lockdown, intended to curb surging corona virus infections in France, entails the closure of bars, restaurants and other businesses open to the public, such as barber shops and hair salons, from Oct. 30, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday.

At the Tchip salon in the northern French city of Cambrai, hairdressers were squeezing in as many appointments as possible due to the sudden demand, hairdresser Cathy Duhautbois told Reuters.

"You'd think Christmas had come early," she said.

But although this week has seen an increase in appointments, the future looks uncertain. The shop will close at 9 p.m. on Thursday night for as long as the lockdown requires.

"It will be difficult for us," Duhautbois said. "The Christmas season is very important for our earnings. We feel like we're paying, like we're being punished for the errors of others."

During the new lockdown, people can go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home, and - in a departure from the previous lockdown in March - most schools will remain open, Macron has said.

(Reporting by Pascal Rossignol, Ardee Napolitano; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)