'We have been forgotten': Wolverhampton tattoo studio’s disappointment over opening refusal
The owners of a tattoo and body-piercing studio in Wolverhampton say they feel "forgotten" by the Government – after being told they cannot reopen this weekend alongside hair salons and pubs.
Chris and Bex Priest, who run Cult of the Sphynx in Wednesfield High Street, said they had spent the months during lockdown putting safety measures in place at the premises in readiness for opening on July 4.
The couple, who live in Dudley, say that following the Government’s scrapping of daily briefings, they now have no idea how much longer they will have to wait before being able to welcome customers and clients back in.
"We were really shocked to hear that we were not among the list of businesses able to reopen on July 4," said Chris.
"At Cult of the Sphynx we provide custom tattooing, piercing and aftercare to clients from as far away as the USA. We were originally put into the same bracket as hairdressers and beauty salons by the Government, but now we have been split up.
"I can understand the thinking by the Government due to us not being able to socially distance, but our business relies on all of our staff already being trained in preventing cross-contamination and our premises already being extremely hygienic due to the procedures we carry out.
"We are, by law, required to be the most safe and clean of industries in order to be licensed. We have already been putting more extensive protocols in place to be Covid secure, such as rebuilding our tattooing areas to be at least 2.5 metres apart and buying additional PPE.
“This is in spite of the fact that we already wear PPE and everything we use – except for machines and power supplies – is already single use and disposed of safely.
"Screens have been installed and floor markings put down. We have also got rid of our waiting area so we are appointment only. Our new Covid-19 risk assessment is incredibly detailed and extensive and has taken many hours to complete," he added.
"We were preparing all of this for the reopening announcement on July 4, spending a lot of money which we don’t have just to be told we cannot open."
Since the lockdown began, the couple – who opened the studio in 2016 – have been surviving financially by selling prints of their artwork to clients.
"The Government grant ran out pretty much as soon as we received it because of our backlog of bills, and our artists and us are living off the amazing support by our clients through them purchasing prints of the artwork we are producing," said Chris.
"We have another five artists who work at the studio and for them it has been even more difficult, as they are self-employed. Some of our artists have only been able to claim Universal Credit and this has not even been enough to cover their living costs.
"Now we are in limbo and it feels that we have been forgotten by the Government, as it was also announced daily briefings were to be scrapped.
"With no possible date for review we can’t even look forward to an announcement and financially the burden is high. We still have rent to pay on the shop itself, insurance, and other costs as well as our personal bills.
"It is also really difficult to hear from our local clients in Wednesfield who are desperate to come back and get a tattoo or a piercing. They want to know when they can come back as much as we do," he added.
"We would like to thank them so much for the support. Wednesfield has such a community spirit and we are pleased to be a part of that."