Tattoo shops reopening amidst pandemic with new safety protocols - InfoNews

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Tattoo shops reopening amidst pandemic with new safety protocols

Amie Easton works on her client's tattoo at Sakred Skin.
June 06, 2020 - 7:00 AM

The tattoo industry has long had stringent sanitation protocols in place so the biggest adjustment for Kamloops and Okanagan artists reopening amid the pandemic, is wearing a mask all day.

"To have to wear (a mask) the whole time is a bit of an adjustment to get used to," Nick Matovich at Vernon's Five Fathoms said. "We’re taking a couple breaks to step outside, take the mask off and breathe some fresh air."

Wearing a mask with glasses is a change for Kelowna's Flashpoint Tattoo Company owner Mark Beaulieu.

"Wearing a mask all day is not fun," he said. "But I wore a mask all day today, and if it’s going to keep me safe, it’s worth it."

Several tattoo shops reopened at the beginning of June, as part of the province's second phase of its reopening plan.

READ MORE: B.C. doing so well after easing COVID-19 restrictions that more things may open up soon

New safety policies are in place for all tattoo shops, so customers can expect a different experience at their next appointment.

While in the chair, customers are required to wear a mask, and in some shops, gloves too.

"Clients have been really receptive, although there’s been a couple people that were a bit thrown off," Matovich said. "We’re definitely going above and beyond what’s recommended, for some people it might be taking the fun out of it a bit for them, because they’re picturing what their last tattoo appointment was like.”

He and a Five Fathoms manager took a voluntary online course provided by the World Health Organization on COVID-19 Infection Prevention. Although they were cleared to reopen May 19, they decided to wait for more clarity on the new protocols expected by WorkSafe B.C. and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Jullian Greenman works on his client's tattoo at Sakred Skin.
Jullian Greenman works on his client's tattoo at Sakred Skin.

Beaulieu was in also in contact with Interior Health representatives while his shop was closed, so the guidelines for personal services didn't come as a surprise. 

"(Interior Health) asked us to write up guidelines and protocol for our company and let them know what that is," he said.

Although one of his clients was not happy about wearing a mask, the rules are firm.

"If you want to get the work done, you’re going to have to follow the policy," he said.

After the closure, tattoo artists at Kamloops' Sakred Skin & Studio are happy to get back to doing what they love. 

"Unlike a lot of people, we like our jobs," Jullian Greenman said. 

He said all Sakred Skin artists do physical art as well as tattooing, and that is something he occupied himself with during the time off.

"I was doing side commissions, digital stuff here and there," he said. "Before tattooing I was doing art anyway."

For those looking to get a tattoo in the near future, there are a few things they need to know. 

Most studios have closed their shop to walk-in traffic, so appointments must be made in advance on the phone or online. Some will require clients to fill out a health questionnaire and self-monitor for symptoms prior to their visit. 

"We’re trying to find a good questionnaire," James Smith from Kamloops' Pirate Palace Tattoo said. "The same thing as the hospital does."

Pirate Place clients are also not allowed to bring personal items in with them for their appointment, which includes cell phones and bags.

The rules for personal items vary for each shop, so it's wise to check their policies ahead of the appointment. Some studios are providing masks for customers who do not have their own, but this may not be the policy everywhere, as other shops have yet to reopen.

Otherwise, like many businesses open at this time, tattoo studios are increasing the frequency of their sanitation practices and decreasing the number of people allowed in the shops to facilitate social distancing.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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