Coronavirus In Ohio: Massages, Tattoos And Piercings Can Resume May 15

May 12, 2020

Massage businesses, tattoo parlors and body art shops will be allowed to reopen in Ohio on May 15, along with hair salons and barbershops.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the dates on Tuesday, the day that retail businesses were able to open their doors again.

Tattoos and piercing businesses weren't included in the state's original reopening plan, Husted explained, because they operate under different health protocols. Those have since been agreed upon by the state's industry advisory group.

Barbershops, hair and nail salons, and day spas were already scheduled to reopen May 15. Like those businesses, tattoo and piercing shops will likely require employees to wear masks, and may have customers wear face coverings as well.

"Respect the employees who are working in their facilities," Husted said at the state's daily coronavirus press conference. "Remember they have families too, and we have an obligation to keep each other safe."

The importance of face masks was also a point raised by Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health. Referencing a recent Wall Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan, Acton argued wearing a face mask is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of respect toward others and of taking responsibility.

Acton said they're still concerned about inciting the spread of infection. While Ohio's numbers have plateaued, the virus is not in decline yet.

"It's still a pretty treacherous time for us, so I think we have to remember that all of us have to double down on our efforts," Acton said.

The state has yet to lay out plans for fairs, outdoor recreation, or camping facilities. Gov. Mike DeWine said that summer activities like swimming pools would possibly be addressed Thursday.

"Summer's about here, and we're going to get that information shortly," DeWine said.

Gyms and fitness centers remain closed as well. Earlier on Tuesday, almost three dozen gyms across the state filed a federal lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health. Their suit, filed by the libertarian 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, alleges the state's "Stay Safe Ohio" order is unconstitutionally vague and violates operators' right to equal protection.

DeWine said that a state working group, which includes gym owners, is currently tasked with making recommendations for reopening those businesses.

The 1851 Center previously sued the Health Department on behalf of Gilded Social, a Columbus bridal shop, but a federal judge rejected their request to roll back parts of Ohio's stay-at-home order.

Nursing Homes

As of Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health reports 25,250 total cases of COVID-19, and 1,436 deaths. There have been 4,539 people hospitalized in the state, including 1,232 people admitted to the ICU.

Appearing by video, Ohio Department of Medicaid director Maureen Corcoran said she's worked with a team of 15 people across the departments of Medicaid, Health and Aging to focus on Ohio's coronavirus response in congregate living environments.

Ohio has about 70,000 people in nursing homes and another 42,000 in assisted living. Corcoran said the state knew COVID-19 would prove more dangerous for older people and those with pre-existing health conditions, and acted early in setting up local connections between nursing homes and hospitals.

Acton said that 16% of the state's coronavirus cases and 22% of the state's deaths have come from long-term care residents. She urged nursing homes to talk with family members when they have a case or a death, and emphasized that doesn't mean the facility has done something wrong.

"The number one thing for a nursing home, for any of our businesses that are opening up, I say to you: Ask for help if you start to see something that doesn't feel right," Acton said.