On 11 January Luxembourg lifted most of its lockdown restrictions and opened up schools, stores, and cultural/sports facilities, including contact-professions such as hairdressers. This is now resulting in ‘hairdresser tourism’ from the neighboring countries.
While most of Europe is closing and imposing hard lockdowns on their populations due to Covid-19, the fact that Luxembourg decided to take a different road baffles a lot of people in the border regions, where businesses are still forced to stay closed.
The phenomenon of ‘hairdresser’ or ‘hair tourism’ isn’t necessarily new to border regions but there is a considerable increase of German clients in the Luxembourgish border villages. People are now willing to drive hundreds of kilometers to get a haircut.
“I saw an increase of clients but not as extreme. While we have new clients from Germany, we also get a lot of new clients from Belgium”, Sally Bach says. She grew up in Vianden, a border town next to Germany, and is now working as a hairdresser in Diekirch, a city that is around 12 kilometers inland.
“I did have a few people from Cologne though”, she says, which is a two a half hours drive. But this is only the exception as most of Bach’s new German clients are from the close border region. Clients she will most probably lose as soon as the lockdown in Germany is lifted as the hairdresser prices are commonly lower there than in Luxembourg.
Before the lockdown, many Luxembourgish people were going to Germany to get their hair done because of the lower prices they offer.
Kai Weinand is one of the German hairdressers in question. He owns a business in Trier, a German city close to the Luxembourgish border. “I can’t understand why our EU neighbor Luxembourg is taking a completely different tack. Covid-19 doesn’t stop at any border,” he said in an interview with the German TV-station RTL.
Weinand is not just losing his clientele to Luxembourg but he is losing his entire business because of the lockdown. He is angry at the local politicians, as they are not providing small businesses with aid money at the moment. “The water is up to our necks,” he says. “We’re being wrecked. My livelihood, which I’ve built up over decades, is just being taken away from me.”
Will the ‘hairdresser tourism’ eventually be balanced out when everyone has gotten their haircut? Right now, the lockdown in Germany will last until February 14, but there has been talk about an extension. It remains to be seen how this whole situation will continue and play out.