Tattoo parlours anger at being ‘overlooked’ and told to stay closed

PUBLISHED: 15:05 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:05 09 July 2020

King's Lynn artist Mike Harper (inset) is disappointed that tattoo studios have not been told when they can reopen. Picture: Mike Harper

King's Lynn artist Mike Harper (inset) is disappointed that tattoo studios have not been told when they can reopen. Picture: Mike Harper

Mike Harper

Tattoo studios claim they have been “overlooked” by government after hairdressers and barbers were allowed to reopen.

On July 4 prime minister Boris Johnson allowed only some close-contact businesses to open their doors, leaving nail salons and tattoo businesses in the dark.

A group of tattoo artists across the East of England have written to their MPs appealing for news on when they will be allowed to open their doors, saying existing health and safety regulations mean they are ready.

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Mike Harper, owner of Black Galleon in King’s Lynn, said: “We just feel overlooked. If Boris Johnson wanted a tattoo the studios would be allowed to open by now. They don’t see us as essential business – and I agree that we’re not – but we’re still business owners with staff to pay and families to feed. The tattoo industry isn’t the small sector it once was, it’s a big employer.

“When you look at how tattoo studios are operated it actually puts them in a better position to reopen than barbers and hairdressers were. We have to work in a very sterile environment, we have to wear masks and gloves already, and legally we have to hold the details of our clients for six years. We’re already wearing the PPE – and we’re doing more than what’s required already.”
Mr Harper’s MP James Wild said: “I have raised the issue of tattoo parlours, beauty salons, nail bars, and other close contact services that haven’t been allowed to open yet directly with ministers. They are working to enable them to open in a Covid-secure way and I want to see dates for when that can happen as soon as possible.”

Of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement yesterday Mr Harper said it was “frustrating” that the conversation around furlough was moving on, when some businesses hadn’t even had the chance to open partially.

Mr Harper, who co-owns the studio, said: “The furlough scheme has been a massive help to many businesses, as have the grants. But it does contribute to the feeling of being overlooked when they’re talking about moving the economy on to it’s next phase and we’re not even open.

“I know a lot of artists have gone into other work to try and make ends meet. There’s also some people who are offering to go to people’s homes to tattoo them. I don’t blame them and I understand it, but personally I think it’s not as professional and we can’t guarantee it’s a hygienic environment.”

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