Tattoo shops remain closed in phase one of reopening Louisiana’s economy


MONROE, La. (5/15/2020) — If a body was a journal and tattoos were the story, Jeremy Lucky would have quite the tale to tell. If you live in Monroe, you’ve probably passed his shop; Lucky’s 7 Tattoo Studio on the corner Louisville Avenue. It’s a prominent parlor that’s been open for that last decade, until now.

Lucky’s shop has been closed for two months now, turning his reality into a nightmare.

“Financially we’re almost in ruin, it’s a terrible feeling,” said Lucky.

While many businesses prepare to reopen at 25% capacity today, tattoo parlors can’t. It’s something that doesn’t sit well with Lucky.

“Now that gyms and casinos are able to reopen and we’re not. It makes absolutely no sense to us. It feels like profiling. It feels like they’re putting us stereo-typically into a box,” said Lucky.

Lucky says tattoo artists go through CPR, bloodborne pathogens and first aid trainin–which includes learning about cross contamination. He says if any business adheres to safety protocols, it’s tattoo shops.

Lucky isn’t the only one who feels this way.

“We have bills just like everyone else. We take precautions and deal with cross contamination everyday and I’m not sure why we’re left out. It upsets me, you know, it’s unfair.” said Joey Bagwell, owner of University Ink in Ruston.

For these shop owners, the Coronavirus pandemic hit at the worst possible time.

“Tattooing is seasonal, and of course tax season is our main money, that carries us through the year. We lost that whole tax season this year. So all the money we have, all the big money for the year, it’s gone.” said Greg Brown, owner of Greg’s Body Art Tattoos and Body Piercings.

Since tattoo artists are independent contractors, they don’t have a steady check.
They make their money off of each client. It’s taking a devastating toll on lucky’s staff.

“I had one of my employees tell me, ‘Hey, I’m rolling change to buy food right now’,”

So, Lucky has one big question:

“What I would like to ask the governor is why we’re not included,” said Lucky.

A question directly answered by Dr. Alexander Billioux, Louisiana’s Assistant Secretary of Health.
During a recent press briefing, Dr. Billioux said the decision was based on three factors. The first is the number of contacts, second, the intensity of that contact, and third is the ability to modify that contact.

“You can imagine how something like tattooing, where you have to be in close physical contact, for an extended period of time, and there’s a challenge to modifying the risk of transmission would be not in the lowest risk category.” said Dr. Billioux.

So for now, the ink guns will remain dry, parlors will be empty and the next page of this tattoo artist’s story will stay blank.

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