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Manatee County massage therapist feels reopening plans are too ambiguous

Coronavirus

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Businesses across Florida have started reopening in the last few weeks. Laura Alcover got the green light to reopen her massage therapy business, Alcover Massage, in Downtown Bradenton about two weeks ago.

Business for Alcover was starting to boom again, up until last week when she got word from colleagues in the massage-industry that prescriptions were needed to perform massage therapy in Manatee County. She called the county code enforcement office where she says officials confirmed what she had heard.

“I immediately started calling my clients, letting them know they need a prescription. I was very concerned that a client was going to come in and ask for a massage and not be able to get that massage so I wanted to let them know ahead of time,” said Alcover.

As a result, she lost around $1,000 in business in just a few days.

Alcover decided to take the issue directly to the Board of County Commissioners in Manatee County. She attended the commission meeting Monday where she learned there was some sort of miscommunication.

“This is after six weeks of not being able to operate; then finally we come out of this and we have this rule in place. Then after all this confusion, I find out it wasn’t really a rule after all,” explained Alcover.

The Manatee County massage therapist reached out to 8 On Your Side in hopes of getting more clarity in terms of what is allowed and what’s not. Her fear is getting fined or shut down for doing something wrong that she is unaware of. Alcover says there is confusion industry-wide.

“In the end, we just want to follow the law, but we have to know what the law is,” said Alcover.

8 On Your Side contacted state and county officials to get clarification on whether massage establishments are included under Gov. DeSantis’s current order or not. We received two different interpretations of the Governor’s order.

The Florida Department of Health, which is the governing body for massage therapists, sent us this statement:

According to the Florida Board of Massage Therapy, yes, under the Governor’s executive order, massage therapists and massage therapy establishments are authorized to reopen.

Manatee County’s Administrator Cheri Coryea sent an email to commissioners Thursday:

Final answer for this week on the Massage Therapist.

If you are a stand alone massage therapist, the Governor’s Full Phase 1 Reopening Plan does not include them at this time for Reopening as of yet.

The Governor’s most recent order opens cosmetology establishments so that a massage therapist can proceed if it operates within a licensed cosmetology establishment.

Currently there is no requirement for a RX. Also, Manatee County does not have any separate or additional restrictions on this area during the Local State of Emergency.

We encourage persons in this industry to seek their own legal counsel and confirm with the insurance carrier that they are protected properly before proceeding.  The County does not provide legal advice for private business.  Our information contained in this email is from trusted sources with the State of Florida.

8 On Your Side contacted the Governor’s office multiple times Thursday for a clear interpretation of the current executive order. We are still waiting for a response.

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