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Artists question decision to keep SLO Co. tattoo parlors closed under COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 10:01 AM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 22:37:35-04

Clients of San Luis Obispo County hair salons are now booking appointments but tattoo parlors remain closed.

Under Gov. Newsom's staged reopening plan, tattoo parlors are not yet able to reopen and that has some in the industry confused and disappointed.

La Luz tattoo parlor in Arroyo Grande may be small but artist Rennie Dunne said she typically tattoos about 15 clients each week.

That was before coronavirus restrictions forced tattoo parlors and salons, among many other businesses, to close.

Now, as salons welcome clients back in for a new 'do, Dunne is wondering why her industry is hearing "don't," as in don't open.

"It's been really frustrating and confusing both for us as artists, tattooers who want to work, and our clients as well when the restrictions and phases keep changing, it's hard for us to give a clear date to our clients as to when we can reschedule, start up work again," Dunne said. "We've always kind of had a bond and connection with hairstylists, barbers, stuff like that. We were always in the same category and we have been since restrictions started so it's really confusing as to why they are opening now and we still don't have the go ahead."

A spokeswoman for San Luis Obispo County Public Health said the County is no longer making its own decisions about which businesses open, instead heeding the governor's advice.

Once they do win approval, County guidance requires tattoo artists to be trained on new coronavirus protocols, including hand washing, masks and staying home when sick. The shops must also feature new signage, improved hygiene practices, and limits on staffing and clientele.

Dunne said her shop and others in the industry plan to prohibit the client from bringing friends and family, meaning those who want a tattoo will have to grin and bear it alone.

According to County guidance on reopening, body piercing shops will require special approval for nose and lip piercings.

There's still no indication on when tattoo parlors may re-open but they are included in Stage 3 along with bars and tasting rooms, fitness centers, and hotels for tourism.