Tatoo artist Kyle Jeske gives Matt Polocy a tattoo on his calf at True Art Tattoos during the coronavirus pandemic in Cleveland, Ohio. South African tattoo artists have started a petition to lobby the government to allow their sector to open during level 3. Picture: AP
Tatoo artist Kyle Jeske gives Matt Polocy a tattoo on his calf at True Art Tattoos during the coronavirus pandemic in Cleveland, Ohio. South African tattoo artists have started a petition to lobby the government to allow their sector to open during level 3. Picture: AP

Tattoo artists lobby government to get back to work on level 3

By Chelsea Ntuli Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Pretoria - Tattoo artists and studio owners have started a petition to lobby the government to allow their sector to open when the country moves to alert level 3.

The industry was facing financial strain, which left them dealing with huge stress and anxiety, they said.

Derek Baker, the co-founder of non-profit organisation Tattooers Unite SA, said studios and artists were facing challenges arising from the pandemic.

“In our industry we deal with a lot of blood-borne pathogens and we do know what we are doing. We have set up tight protocols for how we would work with customers.

“We don't have 100 customers walking through our doors and we work on a one-on-one basis and we sanitise in between clients to prevent diseases like HIV and hepatitis,” he said.

Their precautions were greater and stricter than most current services offered at this stage, and always had been.

Louis Potgieter, the owner of True Blue Tattoo, who runs his studio in Garsfontein, said they could not rely on the government for funding.

A lot of them had applied for the UIF Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme, but some had been turned down or not received a response at all.

The most important part of Tattooers Unite SA was to set up a non-profit organisation to raise funds for the struggling studios registered with the organisation.

“The idea behind this fund is to generate money through not only our clients, but also perhaps larger companies that can assist, and the idea is to distribute these funds among the tattoo artists so they can all take care of their families and hopefully get back to work when this is all over,” he said.

Potgieter said if the industry continued to be under this much pressure, artists might be forced to start operating in their homes because they needed to feed their families. He said that they were receiving calls from customers requesting tattoos even in their homes, and he was scared that some artists might be tempted to give in.

He mentioned that they had about 8000 signatures and they had a protocol in place drawn up with the assistance of the Health Department.

“The most important thing is that we keep our studios clean and healthy. Most of us have families and we don’t want to take anything to them and risk their lives,” he said.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's  #Coronavirus trend page.
** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za

Pretoria News

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