There have been many changes in the massage therapy, esthetics, and cosmetology professions and communities in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). ABMP, ASCP, AHP, and ANP have summarized below how COVID-19 has impacted Minnesota, from executive orders affecting business closures, to reopening protocols modifying practice procedures, to financial programs developed to aid the unemployed.
Prohibition of Practice
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-01 (https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-01.pdf) on March 13, 2020, declaring a statewide peacetime emergency in response to COVID-19. On March 18, 2020, the governor announced a series of business closures in Executive Order 20-08 (https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-08.pdf). The order includes massage therapy and bodywork establishments, spas, salons, nail salons, cosmetology salons, esthetics salons, advanced practice esthetics salons, eyelash salons, and barbershops. These businesses were to remain closed to the public through March 27, 2020; however, Executive Order 20-18 (https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-18.pdf) extended the end date through May 1, 2020, and Executive Order 20-48 (https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-48.pdf) extends the date through May 17, 2020. Once Executive Order 20-48 expires, a determination will be made to extend or relax the order, and we will notify members of the decision, which will affect your back-to-practice state permission date.
A question was raised as to whether massage therapists that work with chiropractors could return to work. The answer is yes. We learned from the Minnesota Chiropractic Association that under Executive Order 20-20, massage can be provided through a chiropractor for a diagnosed acute condition, as part of the chiropractic treatment plan, and under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor. Orders 20-04 and 20-08 both closed “businesses offering massage therapy.” As such, massage offered in connection with a chiropractor must be provided within the chiropractic clinic.
The Walz Administration is working with each profession to develop protocols to safely return to work. As Minnesota considers how to best practice social distancing and enhanced sanitation in the workplace, the state is asking for your participation in this brief, three-question survey (https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=RrAU68QkGUWPJricIVmC...).
ABMP, ASCP, AHP, and ANP update members daily regarding state orders, practice prohibition, and reopening processes. View Minnesota updates here for massage therapists (https://www.abmp.com/updates/news/information-abmp-members-state-shutdow...) and here for estheticians and cosmetologists (https://www.ascpskincare.com/updates/blog-posts/state-updates-regarding-...). The most current information regarding coronavirus in your state can be found on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response website (https://mn.gov/covid19/).
Practice Modifications and Protocol Guidelines
We understand there is a fine line between getting back to work and earning an income and protecting the safety of you and your clients. When the time comes and Minnesota slowly begins to lift some of the restrictions on personal care services allowing businesses to reopen, you may find yourself in need of some back-to-practice guidance. When you begin planning to return to work, what follows is a comprehensive series of back-to-practice guidelines with ideas and precautions we strongly encourage you to consider for yourself, your practice, and your clients.
We encourage you to start with the summary here for massage therapists (https://www.abmp.com/back-to-practice/summary), here for estheticians (www.ascpskincare.com/back-to-practice/summary), and here for cosmetologists (www.associatedhairprofessionals.com/back-to-practice/summary), which provides a good synopsis. We address how to prepare and sanitize your treatment rooms, safe client-practitioner interaction, in-session protection protocols, post-session sanitation and best practices, and business tips from marketing to cancellation policies. We hope the guidelines prove to be informative and helpful, and that they lessen the uneasiness during this uncertain time.
NOTE: When you do return to practice, please check with your local city or county to see if they have reopening orders stricter than Minnesota state orders. With some states giving authority to local governments regarding work authorization, your liability insurance is only valid if you are in compliance with whichever regulations are the most restrictive—state or local. If you are not authorized to work per state or regional orders, and you are working, you are not in compliance with your state or local regulations and therefore your insurance would not be valid.
On March 27, 2020, it was announced that Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion deal to provide economic relief to those most affected by COVID-19. The CARES act expands unemployment to part-time employees and self-employed massage therapists, estheticians, and cosmetologists—workers who have not historically been eligible for unemployment compensation. Minnesota allows for unemployment benefits up to a maximum of $740 per week; however, not everyone will qualify for this amount. In addition, the federal government will be issuing $600 per week via the CARES Act, retroactive to March 29, 2020, through July 31, 2020. Benefits have been expanded in Minnesota to 39 weeks.
Minnesota is offering the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. You can start the application process here (https://www.uimn.org/applicants/needtoknow/news-updates/covid19-pua.jsp). If you were paid as an employee at a job and earned more than $2,500 in that position since January 1, 2019, your unemployment will be based on that job. PUA only applies if you have no W-2 employment. PUA benefits are equal to half of the state’s average weekly unemployment benefits. For example, if you were eligible to receive $300 per week under regular unemployment, your PUA benefits would be $150 per week. Applicants must first apply for regular unemployment insurance prior to filing for PUA.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offered two programs via the CARES Act: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) (https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/pa...) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Loan Advance (EIDL) (https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications). Unfortunately, at this time, only agricultural business applications for the EIDL program will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability. However, the PPP program is still accepting applications. To apply, assemble the required paperwork and contact a potential bank or lender (also consider some credit unions, PayPal, Quicken, Intuit, or Square) as soon as possible. We have heard that there are already so many applications in the pipeline that funds are expected to be depleted soon.
One reminder: The onboarding of all programs has proven to be much slower than was initially thought, and there have been glitches in almost every federal and state program. The overwhelming number of applicants and government agencies that are coming up with new processes are slowing systems down that were not ready for the volume of people contacting them.
In addition, many states’ economic development programs or small business programs have additional loans and assistance available locally—research what you have in your state by searching online for these programs. Find out more about your financial assistance programs, tax credits, tax deadline extensions, health insurance options, and Medicaid in ABMP’s Financial Benefits Update blog post (https://www.abmp.com/updates/news/financial-benefits-update).
We appreciate your membership. Stay safe and well.