Tattoo artists are desperate to re-open in Wales and don’t understand why they can’t – Wales Online

Posted in Tattoo Equipment on Jul 09, 2020

Equipment is single-use, surfaces are sterilised hourly, each member of staff is trained in health and safety and the smell of anti-bacterial spray will hit your nostrils as soon as you walk through the door.

But, despite this, tattoo parlours have still not been given any idea when they will be able to turn their tattoo guns back on and welcome back customers.

If coronavirus numbers continue to fall, the Welsh Government will allow restaurants, bars and cafes with outdoor spaces to re-open from July 13.

Self-contained caravan parks and hotels are hoping to open by July 11, and hairdressers have started booking in clients from July 13.

But many tattoo artists say they are angry and frustrated by the lack of guidance available for their industry.

Dai Williams manages Dai's Tattoo Studio in Station Road, Llanelli.

"At any tattoo studio it's hospital, surgical rules - that's how clean it is," the 45-year-old said.

"We've always been following these hygienic guidelines.

"Everything is single-use, every surface is sterilised after use, we wear gloves, I've made shields and extra masks for customers, there's tape down on the shop floor and sanitising stations.

"We'll work by appointment only and won't have any walk-ins or anyone coming into the shop.

"There's not much I have to change about the way we work."

He said he would not be tattooing the chest, face or neck area if he re-opened.

Many tattoo artists were hoping that the Welsh Government would allow them to re-open alongside hair salons on July 13, but the Welsh Government said it needed to look at how hairdressers re-opened before giving beauticians and tattooists the green light to start working again.

But tattoo artists have argued that other businesses such as pubs where social distancing is difficult to adhere to have been given a re-opening date.

"It's very frustrating when you see pubs and businesses where people are in close proximity to each other being allowed to reopen when we are far more hygienic," added tattoo artist Dai.

"A pint isn't essential, going to the shops isn't really essential. There's a real lack of communication."

Dai said he'd had some financial aid from the government and was confident there would be plenty of interest from clients when they got the go-ahead to re-open.

"That money is not going to last forever but we've had loads of messages from people wanting us to open so I'm confident about the future," he said.

"I would open back up tomorrow if we could."

Abi Gadd, who is known professionally as Abi Eve, runs her own private studio in Porthcawl.

The 29-year-old said the lack of any real information was the hardest part, especially considering she was heavily pregnant.

"It's frustrating because I think there is lack of understanding about the industry from the people making the decisions," she said.

"Tattoo studios aren't these seedy places that people think they are.

"I think the people in power would be really surprised at how hygienic they are and how many rules we follow. Maybe if they looked into it more they might understand the frustration."

Abi said she believed little would need to be done to make the tattoo studio environment safe for customers.

"My studio is private, it's appointment only, I wear gloves and an apron and sterilise everything. All surfaces are wrapped and disinfected. It wouldn't be a new way of working for me.

"The only things I would change is send out the tattoo form digitally before the appointment and wear masks. I've postponed some pieces as I would only be tattooing the lower body and legs."

With a new baby on the way, Abi said she previously hoped to spend the past couple of months making as much money as possible before going on maternity leave, but has instead been left with little income due to the pandemic.

She said: "I was hoping to work hard and save for the past couple of months especially because summer is usually the busiest time of the year and I still have to pay rent on the studio but I'm lucky I've been able to have a government grant.

"I agree that a tattoo is a luxury and isn't essential but neither is an expensive haircut or going to the pub and for me, getting my business up and running and getting an income is essential."

As a pregnant woman Abi is also considered in the high-risk category but insisted she would feel safe and comfortable in her studio.

She said: "I'd like to go back to work for a couple of weeks and earn some money before going off on maternity. I'd cut my appointments down to only around two a day and would put mine and my clients' safety first."

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Questions have also been raised as to whether the tattooing process can spread the virus, but the Welsh Blood Service said there was no evidence that any type of coronavirus could be transmitted through blood transfusion.

Rich Jones, 37, who works as a freelance artist in Carmarthen said tattoo artists were all trained in blood borne viruses and only used single-use needles.

"I don't think it can be the tattooing itself that we are not allowed to open for because every tattoo artist knows how to work with needles anyway to prevent viruses like HIV."

He added: "The people who are in power won't have ever stepped foot in a tattoo studio before. They won't know how we work, how sterilised every surface is or how much training we have."

The 37-year-old artist, who has been tattooing all around the world for 15 years, said: "I think we'll be one of the last to re-open, sports events will start again before us. It'll be another prime example of how the arts are undervalued and everything else is thought of before."

First Minister Mark Drakeford answered a question about the tattoo industry during his #AskFMWales session on social media.

He said: "We remain hopeful that at the end of next week, we will be able to give the go ahead for hairdressers to re-open from the following Monday. It will depend on the state of coronavirus at the time.

"Were going to learn from how hairdressers are able to open, and show they can open safely and if they can then we will have the confidence to move on to other places where people can not operate at a two metre distance, like tattooists."

"We need a successful experience of hairdressers re-opening safely to give us the confidence to open more," added the first minister.

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Tattoo artists are desperate to re-open in Wales and don't understand why they can't - Wales Online

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