Tattoists are calling on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to provide a timeline for when businesses in the state can re-open, after the industry was left out of the roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions.
The Australian Tattooists Guild has released a COVID-19 safety plan as part of an ongoing effort to convince state officials the industry is ready to go after the coronavirus shutdown.
But guild vice president Tashi Edwards, a tattooist of 17 years based in Melbourne, says it’s been an uphill battle convincing governments tattoo parlours should be allowed to re-open alongside beauty parlours and other similar services.
Notably, the NSW government has still not provided a timeline for when tattoo parlours can reopen, despite saying beauty technicians could start trading from June 1 in an announcement last Sunday.
“We’ve been completely left out,” Edwards says.
“If you can have 50 people in a restaurant in NSW why can you not have five people in a tattoo studio?”
Over the past few weeks, states have been gradually announcing when retail services can resume operation.
Tattoo parlours will be allowed to open with restrictions in Victoria from June 1 and in Queensland from June 12.
South Australia will allow tattooists to open on June 5, while Edwards says Western Australia has placed tattooists in stage three alongside beauty services businesses, although no date has been finalised yet.
The Northern Territory will allow tattooists to open from June 5 as well. But NSW has provided no timeline or place for tattooists in their road map yet.
In Queensland, tattooists were originally going to be classified in stage three or four of easing, which would have seen parlours closed until at least July 10, but the government relented and reclassified the businesses to be included in stage two.
Edwards says governments have been trying to work out whether tattooists should be classified alongside other retail services firms like beauty salons or with sex workers as they were initially in Queensland.
“We’ve got high standards, I mean you could have had a hair cut throughout COVID without a regulatory requirement to wear a mask, yet you can’t get a tattoo,” Edwards says.
The guild has provided guidance to the industry for COVIDSafe operations and is pitching its plan to state governments.
It involves contract tracing customers, encouraging patrons to wait in their cars for appointments rather than in the shop, and the provision of personal protective equipment where appropriate.
But without a concrete date for when businesses can open in Australia’s most populous state, tattooists have no idea whether they should be ramping up their operations, Edwards says.
“There’s a very vague presumption that maybe we’re classified under the beauty industry, but there’s no certainty.”