Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses must follow the operating requirements spelled out in Executive Order No. 141.  Failure to do so can result in (1) a Class 2 Misdemeanor, punishable as a $1000 fine and sixty (60) days in jail, (2) your business shutting down, and (3) civil liability for COVID-19 related claims, unlike “essential” businesses and health care services. In this article, we provide a quick summary of the operating requirements for personal care, grooming, or tattoo businesses during the pandemic.

Risks Involved with Operations

As defined in North Carolina, personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses are businesses that (a) do not provide health care services and (b) have employees or equipment that repeatedly come into contact with customers.  These businesses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Barber shops;
  2. Tanning, Hair and Nail Salons;
  3. Manicure and Pedicure Providers;
  4. Tattoo Parlors; and
  5. Massage Therapists.

Without proper care, the risk of COVID-19 may be unreasonably high.  These services require close interaction for an extended period of time.  Most, if not all, of these services are done indoors.  Further, employees who inhale chemicals on a daily basis, such as nail technicians, may be immunocompromised and at higher risk.  Given all these risks, businesses should take care to keep its customers and employees safe, and its liability limited. 

What’s Required?

During Phase 2, personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses must meet certain requirements to avoid COVID-19 civil liability.  Below are the requirements set out in Executive Order No.  141:

  • Limit customers inside to the Emergency Maximum Occupancy, which is the lowest number out of the following tests:
    • Limit customers to 50% of the space’s fire capacity.  (If the space does not have a stated fire capacity, limit the space to 12 customers per 1000 sq.  ft.); or
    • Limit the number of people in the space so that customers (or groups) can stay 6 feet apart.
  • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signs requesting that people who have been sick with a fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Mark 6-feet spacing lines at points of sale and other high-traffic areas, like waiting areas. 
  • Use a daily standard interview questionnaire to screen employees for symptoms, before they enter the workplace.
    • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Frequently and routinely clean and disinfect high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19.
  • Clean and disinfect all equipment and furniture that directly touches customers between each customer.
  • Require employees to wear face coverings at all times while in the business.

Additionally, personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses may consider doubling down on their appointment processes and encouraging people to wait in their vehicle or offsite before being serviced. 

If you have specific questions regarding your business and liability to COVID-19 related claims, we welcome you to contact the Business Law or Employment Law groups at Cranfill Sumner.   

This publication was prepared with the assistance of one of our Summer Clerks, Le Ho.  Le is a law student at the University of North Carolina School of Law and will be graduating in May 2022.