Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salon technicians have been ordered to wear medical grade masks and visors when dealing with clients in England.

The rule, which includes nail bars and other close contact services, comes into force immediately.

Workers in the industry - including at tanning salons and tattoo parlours - have been told to wear type-2 disposable surgical masks.

The move comes ahead of beauticians being able to resume services such as facials and eyebrow shaping from Saturday.

The only compulsory thing hairdressers have had to wear since they reopened on July 4 has been a face visor, reports The Mirror.

A covering hasn't ever been needed over their nose and mouth - despite becoming compulsory in nearly all indoor public spaces and on public transport.

In a meeting on July 22, a sub-group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) ruled visors alone "are unlikely to be an effective control for aerosol transmission".

SAGE added: "We recommend that guidance for UK hairdressers and barbers should be strengthened to include wearing of face coverings."

Yet the government dawdled over the findings for weeks, leading experts to speak out in protest.

Now the guidance has finally been updated - and goes even further than what SAGE said on July 22.

Instead of wearing a face "covering", which can include a scarf or piece of cloth, anyone working in "close contact services" must now wear a full "type 2" surgical mask.

This includes hairdressers and barbers, as well as nail and beauty salons, tattoo, tanning and massage parlours, and dress fitters and tailors.

Each mask must be worn only once and then discarded safely, "ideally into a non-touch and self-closing bin".

New guidance adds: "A Type II face mask should be worn with the visor.

"Type II face masks are not PPE but will provide a physical barrier to minimise contamination of the mouth and nose when used correctly.

"Ensure you are hydrated before putting a mask on."

Face masks must also not be touched once on the face, and must be changed if they become moist or damaged, or difficult to breathe through.

Downing Street said the move was "taking into account new evidence provided by SAGE and consultation with industry".

A statement added: "This will help protect the customer and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, or speaking."

The original guidance to hairdressers, when they opened on July 4, said wearing a face covering may only be "marginally beneficial", and the evidence it would protect customers "is weak and the effect is likely to be small".

Those phrases were removed on July 23, the day after the experts' meeting, and replaced with the words: "There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from COVID-19.

"However, face coverings are not an alternative for employees who wear a visor in close contact services."

The guidance has now been updated yet again.

The scientists made their recommendation after a US study found two COVID-19 infected hairdressers, who wore face coverings, did not pass on the disease to 139 clients.

Dr Ben Killingley of SAGE group NERVTAG told the Mirror the government’s previous guidance for hairdressers “doesn’t go far enough”.

He added: “They obviously can’t keep their distance and a visor, in my view, doesn’t do as good a job as a face mask at containing respiratory secretions.”

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the separate SAGE sub-group NERVTAG, also hit out at previous guidance.

Stressing he was giving a personal opinion, he told the Mirror: "I can understand why it's more convenient to wear a visor, but really what is a visor going to do?"

He added: "I think it's absolutely clear that wearing a face visor is going to direct the expelled air and droplets.. in a downward direction.

"If you were, for example, a hairdresser and you're working on somebody's hair and wearing a visor that would not really in any way be likely to afford protection."