Tattoo Artists, Massage Therapists Upset They Can't Reopen Yet

They are licensed and want to work also

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Inside New Level Tattoo Gallery in Dallas chairs sit empty.

"I employ about seven people, some of which have families," tattoo studio owner Spartacus Durant said.

Durant said employees are missing out on customers and income during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Vince Sims
Inside New Level Tattoo Gallery in Dallas

However, he said his shop is as clean as ever and ready to welcome people back safely.

"Since day one, I've run medical-grade filters in my AC units,” Durant said. “So, we run a higher filtration unit in here. At the same time, all of my guys are certified in BBP (bloodborne pathogens), first aid and universal precautions, as well as cross-contamination."

Despite his preparedness and certifications, he can't open his doors. Although other businesses can that he was categorized with at one point.

Vince Sims
Tattoo utensils at New Level Tattoo Gallery

"We went from being classified with nail salons and barbers to now we are in the same classification as strip clubs,” Durant said. “I do not understand why I'm being classified this way or why my industry is being classified this way."

Durant is not alone. NBC 5 also heard from licensed massage therapists raising the same concerns. We are told this is keeping more than 28,000 massage therapists in Texas out of work because Gov. Greg Abbott considers massage and tattoo non-essential.

NBC 5 reached out to Abbott's office for comment, but did not receive a response.

"It's forcing us to the point where we either have to shut our doors and file bankruptcy and lose everything we've worked hard for, or we are going to have to go back to doing it illegally," Durant said. “Hopefully we want to do it the legitimate way where people actually hear us.”

Making his voice heard and leaving a mark on improving legislation is what he plans to do moving forward.

"We want to have a tattoo collective that's able to approach the people that are writing the legislation for our industry and help educate them in order to where they can write better legislation for us," Durant said.

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