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Customer Etiquette in Body Art Studios for COVID19

A mask must be worn at all times in a California body art studio that offers tattooing or piercing.

Eight months into the pandemic some parts of the U.S. are starting to reinstate stay-at-home orders because of climbing COVID19 cases. Those of us in body piercing and tattoo studios in most California counties have only been back to work for a few weeks as of the time of this writing. City, county, and state protocols and health orders vary between each other, and this contributes to confusion sometimes.

COVID has increased stress in everyone’s personal, financial, and professional lives. In piercing for example, we were completely prohibited from offering services while similar industries were allowed to open their doors. Now that we are finally back to work we have extreme limitations to the amount of PPE and other necessary products we’re allowed to buy like gloves and disinfectants. These same products now cost at least 400% more than they did pre-COVID. Just as challenging is that we’re not allowed by the state of California to work under the mask. All services of the mouth and nose have been suspended.

Also consider the new precautions we now take that are specific to preventing the transmission of a highly contagious respiratory virus. You can read more about that here. Visitors to our studio of course are grateful for our concern for their safety. But these measures are for our safety as well. As of the time of this writing there are four confirmed piercing studios in the U.S. that have been quarantined specifically because of COVID19 infections among their staff members.

If we’re going to put COVID19 behind us everyone needs to work together. This means businesses like ours need to comply with safety requirements of the health department and updated best practices as they evolve. This also means that customers of any business need to be compliant with company policies. These policies are also for the protection of their workers and this shouldn’t be forgotten.

Currently, the state of California has suspended body piercing services of the mouth and nose. This means no piercings, no jewelry changes, and no consultations under the mask. Many people calling us on the phone say they don’t believe this is true. You can read about this here. When you call multiple studios and hear the same thing, (they’re not piercing noses), it’s fair to assume there’s a reason. It’s inappropriate to argue or be angry with the person who answered the phone. Even without a ban on these services, no studio is required to offer them. Insulting someone trying to help you is unnecessary.

Removing your mask at anytime in a piercing studio against company policy and the public health code is unacceptable. Some people are so insistent that they get services for their nose that they take the liberty of removing their masks, even though it’s been made clear they’re not supposed to. This should be common sense, but it’s something piercers around the country are struggling with.

All small businesses have been impacted by the current health crisis. We’re all operating now with modifications. “Modifications” means much higher expenses and much lower income. Regardless of how a potential customer feels about the pandemic, their refusing to comply with policies and codes intended to protect workers is nothing short of disrespectful.

John Johnson
John Johnson is a professional body piercer at New Flower Studio and a resident of Long Beach, CA. He's also a Red Cross instructor and authorized OSHA trainer. He manages the online curriculum for the Association of Professional Piercers and is a member of AFDO.