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Coronavirus: Winnipeg tattoo artist irked at reopening rules

While hairdressers, barbers and others will need to learn how to adjust to the new sanitary norms, tattoo artists already have high standards for sanitation, a Winnipeg tattoo artist said. Getty Images

A Winnipeg tattoo artist is perplexed after some non-essential businesses will be allowed to operate Monday as the province slowly reopens for business amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while tattoo shops like his have no determined opening date.

Manitoba’s government said Wednesday hair salons, non-urgent medical services, retail businesses, restaurant patios, museums and other businesses will be allowed to reopen this coming week — with stringent public health measures in place, including increased cleaning and physical distancing protocols.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Manitoba to implement phased reopening starting May 4

Tattoo studios, meanwhile, won’t be allowed to reopen until the third phase of the province’s reopening plan — with no set date.

“They have their hand over the pause button that says, ‘phrase three is to be determined’, and if there’s an influx of cases… they could stop that process and our businesses will be lost forever because we won’t even get a chance to recover economically,” said Phil McLellan, who operates Parlor Tattoos on Main Street with his wife, along with other artists.

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But hair salons, in particular, are what irked McLellan.

While hairdressers, barbers and others will need to learn how to adjust to the new sanitary norms, tattoo artists already have high standards for sanitation, he said.

“We do this in between every single client, every day, so even before the onset of the [COVID-19] virus, these were daily practices carried out in every body modification studio,” McLellan said of sanitary practices the province set for businesses that are allowed to reopen this week.

“But these are people who need to learn how to do these things when we’re trained in this environment. This is something we do as our job on a daily basis to protect our clients and ourselves,” he added.

Now he’s worried about the fate of Parlor Tattoos and other businesses like it.

The shop wasn’t able to get any assistance from the federal government, although it did get the province’s $6,000 small business loan, he said.

But $6,000 only goes so far. The monthly rent is $2,700 — and although his landlord has allowed the business to make partial payments that will be rolled into later payments — no clear time frame for when he can reopen makes the budget tight.

“Who knows how many of us will make it through,” he said of tattoo artists. “We’ve been waiting since the middle of March to support our families.”

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The province did not respond to a request for clarification on why tattoo studios were placed in the third reopening phase Saturday.

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