A tattoo parlor in a red phase county stuck under Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) stringent lockdown order has reopened, booking “hundreds” of appointments as personal care facilities — such as gyms, salons, and tattoo parlors — are instructed to remain closed throughout the state.
Sick Ink Studios, located in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County, is taking a stand.
“Hundreds of customers booked appointments that will keep the tattoo parlor busy for months; a few even did so in person, entering the shop one at a time,” the Morning Call reported.
“It appears to be about us, but it’s not about us. It’s about all the people that reached out to me to tell me they’re losing everything — everything hard they ever worked for,” owner Jesse Probus said in a May 15 video explaining his decision.
“It’s not that I don’t care that people are dying. But it’s also about survival and all the hard work that we have put into everything,” he continued, noting that many small businesses have lost so much that they no longer possess the ability to reopen.
“How are they going to feed their children?” he asked, explaining that many of the people who have reached out to him have received no help from the government and fear they will not be able to feed or shelter their children.
“You can do whatever you want to me. I understand all my consequences of my actions,” he continued. “It’s just something I have to do. It’s just something I have to do to help myself.”
“It’s something that I have to do to help other small business owners. Maybe they’ll stand up with me. Maybe they’ll come join me tomorrow,” he said.
“I feel like my civil liberties are threatened with all this that’s going on,” he continued, adding that he will no longer live in fear.
“It’s just not something I’m going to do anymore,” he added.
An April 28 Facebook post from the business’s page details some of the steps the owner is taking to ensure the safety of his customers, including the installation of an ozone machine that “runs at full blast all night.”
“Although we are more than eager to get back to work, we also understand the magnitude of the situation the world is going through right now. So with that, we will be implementing new requirements upon reopening,” the update reads, asking customers to wear a face mask and gloves and limiting entry to one person at a time.
“Friends and family are no longer allowed to accompany you during a service,” the post reads, adding that temperature checks will be conducted “the second you enter for your appointment.”
“If you so much as sniffle, you will be DOS. [Dead on Sniffle.],” the post adds:
We’ve been working hard preparing for the shop to reopen again!
There’s been lots of cleaning, painting, remodeling and…
“Phones will be back on 11am Monday Morning! Please enjoy the rest of your weekend!” another post from Sunday reads:
Phones will be back on 11am Monday Morning! Please enjoy the rest of your weekend!
According to the Morning Call, a group of friends, clients, and small business owners gathered outside of the studio on Saturday to support Probus and his decision.
“I feel backed by all my friends, but Pennsylvanians are still scared of this governor,” he said.
Probus even contacted the Whitehall Township police to inform them of his intentions.
Per the Morning Call:
Someone concerned about the opening called the shop to say they notified police, and Probus said officers drove by but didn’t stop.
He’s had the shop for 13 years, though he’s been tattooing for 20, since he was 15 years old. Earlier this year, Probus bought 9 acres in Walnutport to open an ice cream shop and mini-golf course, but the money he was going to put into that, plus his life savings, has now gone into keeping his tattoo parlor open.
Lehigh County is not among the additional 12 counties permitted to move into the next phase of reopening this week. However, the yellow phase of reopening is still highly restrictive, barring restaurants from offering dine-in services and requiring salons and tattoo parlors to remain closed.
“If you live in one of the 18 counties that remains in the red zone, you may feel disappointed or frustrated right now,” Wolf said last week.
“Our frustration has to be directed to the virus. We’re trying to keep people safe,” he added.