A TOWN centre barber shop that underwent rigorous hygiene checks has been awarded a five star rating for cleanliness.

Andy’s Barber Shop in Bicester is said to be the first venue in Oxfordshire to receive the top score.

Issued by the Salon Standards Agency, the barbers had an 'intense' assessment of the shop floor as well as rooms behind the scenes such as offices and toilets.

Barber owner Andy Willis says he was surprised to receive such a high score.

He said: “We often get told by barbers that ours is the cleanest salon they’ve ever worked in, but I have to be honest the five stars did surprise me because it was such a thorough assessment and we’ve never been assessed before.”

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The barber had to review the shop’s health and safety guidelines document page by page and answer specific questions such as what sterilising solutions were used for certain items, as well as checking insurances.

He added: “Five stars is the highest level you can be awarded, but they actually said if we could give you six we would. It was intense but is great that barber shops are getting this level of assessment, it can only be a good thing moving forward.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Willis first opened his barbers in Sheep Street in January 2008, but with a growing team and customer base, moved into a bigger unit in August 2017.

He says barber shops had a history of being dirty and that ever since starting his career, he has made it his mission to keep his a safe and clean environment.

He said: “Many years ago when I first started barbering, barber shops were filthy – men smoked in them and you’d pretty much wipe your feet as you walked out.

“Barber Shops have long been the poor relation to ladies hairdressers and I have always felt it shouldn’t be that way which is why hygiene as always been a top priority.

“I have always wanted my clients to feel they are in a safe and clean environment and this is something I’ve been passionate about for years and years. The move to now having ‘scores on the doors’ just as you see at food establishments has to be a good thing.”

Mr Willis reopened his shop at one minute past midnight on July 4 - the date the government allowed hairdressers to reopen again.

Before reopening, he said he had taken all steps with his team to ensure the venue was ‘Covid Secure’ and safe for customers to return.

There are ten cutting stations and every other chair is used so as to maintain social distancing.

There is now a waiting area with a gazebo outside where customers can queue and an online booking system has been introduced with three of the barbers.

Staff wear visors and upon entering there is hand sanitiser and track and trace details taken down.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Willis added: “The chairs and workstations are cleaned and sterilised after each customer receives fresh towels and gowns, as well as sterilised combs and scissors.

"We have also moved to being completely cashless and so bring the card machine to the customer. Our barbers are doing a brilliant job and our customers can feel safe and enjoy their haircut.”

He also uses professional cleaning company NJF.