There have been many changes in the massage therapy industry and community in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), from executive orders affecting businesses, to emergency rulemaking altering renewal requirements. ABMP has summarized below how COVID-19 has impacted the licensing regulations and laws in the state of New Jersey. We encourage you to pay special attention to the CARES Act outlined at the bottom of this email, which addresses financial aid and unemployment benefits.
Prohibition of Practice
On March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 107, which ordered businesses offering personal care services to close, as the nature of their services simply cannot comply with social distancing guidelines. Although there were many exemptions to the order, health and wellness services, including massage therapy, were not included. Make sure to review the financial relief options available to you at the bottom of this email.
ABMP updates members daily regarding COVID-19 and how it impacts businesses and legislative and regulatory changes. Check in with us to stay in the know about New Jersey updates here. (https://www.abmp.com/comment/324#comment-324) In addition, the most current information can be found on New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub.
Senate Bill 2428 was introduced in 2018, passed on January 21, 2020, and becomes effective April 20, 2020. This bill requires proof of liability insurance with coverage of $1M per occurrence and $3M aggregate per year. Proof of such insurance is a requirement for licensure and is also required upon license renewal beginning April 20, 2020. Your ABMP membership insurance benefit covers these requirements. Employers that offer massage therapy and are registered with the Board must also show proof of insurance.
Continuing Education (CE) Requirements
Due to the ongoing concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus and in the interest of protecting the safety and health of New Jersey residents, the Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy announced on March 31, 2020, that licensees are allowed to complete all required 20 hours of continuing education online for the 2020 renewal cycle. https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/mbt/Pages/individual.aspx
ABMP members have access to 200+ hours of free CE in the ABMP Education Center. ABMP Certified members have access to an additional 400 hours of CE through the World Massage Conference library of courses. Let us help you fulfill your CE requirements by checking out our Education Center at www.abmp.com/ce.
NOTE: Pearson VUE, the provider of the MBLEx, has closed testing centers. View the statement issued by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards to learn more.
The CARES Act
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 and cosmetologists—workers who have not historically been eligible for unemployment compensation.
Learn how to apply for benefits in your state.
As self-employed unemployment benefits are new to the unemployment landscape, it is taking states some time to determine how to calculate wages for self-employed individuals. Everyone is working in a brave new world and creating systems on the fly, so it is taking a little longer to put everything in place. The State of New Jersey Department of Labor explains that unemployment benefits for the self-employed are not available as of this email, but they encourage you to apply anyway:
“Freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors: While we wait for federal guidelines, we encourage you to apply for unemployment now. Your claim likely will be denied, but your ineligibility for regular unemployment is a prerequisite for receiving benefits due to COVID-19. Additional details will be posted online as they become available.”
New Jersey allows for unemployment benefits up to a maximum of $681 per week; however, not everyone will qualify for this amount. The federal government will also be issuing $600 per week through the CARES Act.
In addition, the Small Business Administration has two financial relief options: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Stay tuned for an ABMP email that will outline all the info on these programs to help you make an informed decision on which one is best for you and your situation.