The American Suntanning Association was heavily involved in efforts this spring to help states develop COVID-19 guidelines and re-open professional tanning facilities as highly-sanitized retail businesses.
Most states had shut down businesses in the last week of March. By mid-April, ASA had communicated respectfully to all 50 state governors offices that, when the time was right, we’d happily use our knowledge of retail sanitation procedures to be a part of developing protocols for other retailers to open their businesses safely.
“In light of all that was going on, we wanted to be part of the solution. That was the only way our small group stood any chance of being heard,” ASA Director of Scientific Affairs Joseph Levy said.
We made the case that professional indoor tanning facilities should be included in the first wave of retail businesses allowed to re-open when state and local governments ease stay-at-home and closure orders, for a number of core reasons:
Those messages resonated in a few key states early on, which set precedent for other states to follow their lead. “The governors are working in geographic peer groups,” Levy said. “Getting precedent helped us move on state-by-state to encourage others that, when the time was right, we were ready to open safely and could help teach other retailers how to do so, as well.”
ASA’s Levy and many of our members participated in state work groups and task forces to develop and review protocols for reopening businesses. “From late April through early June, it was pure triage,” Levy said. “Assisting ASA members in about three dozen different states, who all were facing different challenges, was humbling. Getting the attention of emergency managers at a time when everyone was trying to get their attention, with no face-to-face meetings allowed, was an enormous challenge. And we know what is at stake for all of our ASA members.”
As some states started re-opening some retail businesses in early May and on into May, our strategies to assist other states evolved. One thing we did early on: We have stopped referring to professional tanning businesses as “salons.” This only makes it easier for bureaucrats or politicians to group tanning businesses with person-to-person-oriented hair, nail, massage or tattoo salon businesses, which generally were the last to open in most states.
“We did not denigrate hair salons,” Levy said. “But the fact is that many states kept hair salons closed out of the fear of person-to-person contact. In many cases, we worked in groups alongside hair salon leaders on how to develop protocol.”
Founded in 2012, the American Suntanning Association is committed to defending and growing the industry through a detailed and proactive plan directed by an all-salon board and executed by more than two dozen management and consulting team members who specialize in this type of work.
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