Tattoo shops in Pinellas County allowed to reopen under strict guidelines

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says tattoo shops can reopen but there will strict guidelines they must follow in order to operate.

Tattoo guns inside Atomic Tattoos have been back up and running since last Monday. It's one of the few shops choosing to reopen despite not getting any guidance from local, state, or federal officials.

"We will now be implementing per-procedural precautions including limiting access to the studio to only those who are getting a service done, including physical distancing," Atomic Tattoo owner Clay Montgomery said.

Late Monday, the Pinellas County sheriff explained guidelines for phase one of the reopening.

"Everything else can re-open. That includes massage locations. That includes tattoo parlors. That includes bowling alleys. Everything can open under certain restrictions and certain conditions," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

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As part of the new rules, all businesses in Pinellas County can reopen except for establishments with 50% or more of their gross revenue coming in from alcohol sales. For tattoo shops, it means restricting walk-ins and group appointments.

"It felt pretty comfortable. Everyone was wearing masks. Everyone was doing the 6-foot rule so I didn't really have any issue," customer Hope Gandee said.

According to the new guidelines, shops must operate on an appointment-only basis and must have 15 minutes in between each appointment. Also, employees must wear masks. Clay Montgomery, owner of Atomic Tattoo is going one step further.

He's requiring staff and customers to fill out a questionnaire about their potential exposure. He's also taking the temperature of customers and asking them to wear masks before coming in for their appointment.

"As professionals, we are trained in bio-hazardous waste handling and cross-contamination. We will continue to follow to stated precautions that have kept tattooing and piercing safe for our clients and staff for nearly 20 years," Montgomery said.

RELATED: Is it working? Results of Florida's phased reopening plan will be in the numbers

FOX 13 reached out to Hillsborough County for guidelines on tattoo shops, but were told they would be issuing guidelines sometime soon. It's unclear when they could be released.

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