Tattoo shops, beauty salons and massage parlours in England reopened on Monday after being forced to close for almost four months in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown.
Customers are required to wear masks while face tattoos, eyebrow trimming, face waxing and facials are prohibited under government guidelines.
People clamouring to get a new tattoo returned to body art studios such as Skins and Needles in Durham in the north of England. A limited number of customers can now only be inside at once and whereas people previously could walk in for appointments, there is now about a two-week waiting list.
After spending thousands of pounds opening the studio in February, the surge in coronavirus cases forced manager Paige Harker to shut a month later as part of the lockdown.
“It is really good to be back and now all the staff are back together and customers are returning it is almost like the last few months never happened,” said Harker, 25. “We are on the road to normality with a few complications.”
Tattoo artist Devin Evans is adjusting to having to wear a face mask, which can steam up.
“You find yourself having to look under the mask a little bit, so you are almost tattooing in a different position,” she said. “It would be ideal if we didn’t have to.”
Britain has been the European country worst hit by the coronavirus, with an official death toll of more 44,000. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has faced criticism from the opposition over its handling of the pandemic – including locking down later than some other parts of Europe.
The latest changes apply only to England as the devolved nations in the United Kingdom – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – have been setting their own timetables for easing lockdown restrictions.