The beauty brand bPerfect has been slammed online after thousands of customers as well as brand ambassadors showed up at its new store opening in Belfast on Thursday the 1st of October.
Videos and images shared online show influencers such as Michelle Regazzolli, Stacey Marie, Ellie Kelly, and EastEnders star and the Queen of the jungle Jacqueline Jossa, arriving at the event on a double-decker bus which included its very own DJ.
From videos shared, little social distancing seems to have taken place aboard the bus and there are many images in which influencers and Belfast born founder of bPerfect, Brendan McDowell, were not wearing masks. Outside the new store, thousands lined the streets with no social distancing taking place.
Hundreds took to Twitter to announce their outrage with many claiming they would never buy from the internationally renowned brand again. Newstalk radio presenter, Susan Keogh, tweeted that “Unless there is a cure for COVID in your bPerfect Carnival palette, there is just no excuse for that event”.
iRadio presenter, Louise Clarke, shared similar dismay at the brand. “How is this acceptable?” she tweeted, “Shame on the influencers who attended and promoted the event and massive shame on bPerfect for holding it”.
Castlecourt shopping centre, where the event took place announced that they had thoroughly examined bPerfects event management plans and were “satisfied with the safety measures outlined,” according to The Belfast Telegraph.
Measures taken by the shopping centre included an extra ten security officers to manage ques and a team of eight staff “ to regularly undertake a rigorous cleaning regime throughout the evening”.
A spokesperson for bPerfect stated that they made “numerous public pleas to anyone shopping with us on our opening night to ensure they adhered to all social distancing guidelines”. They also stated that they had social distancing measures in place at the event, including sanitising stations at all entrances.
Influencer and beauty guru Ellie Kelly was a particular point of contention as she had just returned from Greece three days before attending the event. She also travelled from Dublin to the event, despite the county being on level three of restrictions. She took to her Instagram stories to apologise.
“I sincerely want to apologise if I have hurt anyone’s feelings or annoyed anyone. I completely understand, I’m not even going to defend anything,” she told her 250 thousand followers.
The day after the event Northern Ireland recorded 934 new cases of coronavirus, more than double previous daily figures. In the past week, there has been a further 5, 272 cases recorded. When these stark figures began to emerge, founder McDowell offered his apologies.
“We thought we were doing a really good thing, employing people and opening a store in the middle of the pandemic. We never in a million years could have predicted that so many people would turn up… I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart”.