When can massage therapists work again? The latest updates

With various restrictions in place across the UK, when can massage therapists work again?

Woman in treatment room – when can massage therapists work again?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While massages are a rare treat for some, R&R treatments have well and truly been put on hold in 2020. So when can massage therapists work again in all areas of the UK?

For those who've spent the last few months working from makeshift desks at home, few things are more relaxing than a proper massage. While fellow household members or partners might be able to do a half-decent job of loosening any knots, it never quite compares to the professional treatment.

Although beauty services opened back up in July, they unfortunately had to shut up shop once again in October and November as various lockdowns were reinstated across the UK.

When can massage therapists work again?

In England, massage services will be able to resume once the current lockdown ends on the 2nd of December. In Wales and parts of Scotland in "lower tier" areas, it's still permitted to hire the services of a massage therapist.

Following the first lockdown, on Tuesday 23rd of June it was reported that Boris Johnson confirmed that hairdressers and salons could open from the 4th of July, following Dominic Raab’s assertion that this would be the case earlier in May. However beauty salons and spas had to remain closed.

There was considerable backlash against this, with beauty professionals arguing that their salons should open along with hairdressers. Eventually, other beauty services were able to reopen in August.

Like hairdressers and salons, places that offer massages and other spa treatments had been closed since the 23rd of March when the UK went into lockdown.

Before that however, the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) – UK's largest professional association for therapists – had asked their members to restrict their working practices and to not provide treatments if they, or those they were treating, were at an “increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Can I book a massage in England?

All beauty services, including massages, are not currently running during England's second lockdown, which ends on the 2nd of December. After that, being able to get a massage will depend on restrictions in your local area.

Regions in England will once again be classified as being in either tier 1, 2 or 3. Unless additional rules are enforced locally, massage services will be able to operate under all three tiers. 

Can I get a massage in Scotland?

Under current guidelines, massages can continue to operate up to Tier 3 if they take place at a salon or a therapist's home treatment room and all safety and hygiene precautions are carried out.

However, at this level mobile therapists are not allowed to offer close-contact services in other people's homes – with the exception of hairdressers and barbers for haircuts only. Mobile massages may only be carried out within Tier 1. 

Can I get a massage in Wales?

Yes! A "fire break" lockdown took place between the 26th of October and 9th of November, but since then beauty services have been allowed to resume. Both in salon and at-home massages can take place, providing that all safety and hygiene precautions are followed. 

Can I get a massage in Northern Ireland?

The circuit breaker in Ireland will end on Friday 20th November, with beauty services including massages allowed to reopen then – but only for a week. Beauty services will then have to close again on 27th November as part of a tougher, two week lockdown.

The circuit breaker was originally due to run from the 16th of October to the 13th November, but was extended by another week.

Can I get a massage in Tier 3?

Technically yes, although extra restrictions may come into effect area by area. When Nottingham moved into Tier 3, local authorities imposed a blanket ban on almost all beauty services, including massages. Only haircuts were permitted.

However, beauty businesses were not affected when West Yorkshire was placed under Tier 3 restrictions.

Can I get a massage in Tier 2?

Yes. Provided that all relevant Covid safety measures are carried out, massage appointments are allowed under Tier 2 rules. 

What social distancing measures will be in place when massage therapists open again?

In the summer, the FHT confirmed in an online statement that there was initially no sector-specific advice from the various UK government on therapists wearing face masks or coverings.

However, they also said, "As most treatments offered by our members involve prolonged close contact with clients, it is likely that [the massage therapist] will need to consider wearing some type of mask that is appropriate for the treatments you are delivering."

READ MORE: This is the hairdressing service you may not be able to have once salons reopen

When salons first planned their reopening, hairdressers  had to stock up on various supplies to try and keep their businesses as safe as possible – without any specific advice from the government.

However, the government has since issued seven steps for those providing "close contact services", including hairdressers, beauticians and massage therapists. The following steps are advice for England taken from GOV.UK, though steps for the rest of the UK are very similar. 

  • Complete a Covid-19 risk assessment (available at gov.uk)
  • Clean more often
  • Ask your customers to wear face coverings
  • Make sure everyone is social distancing
  • Increase ventilation
  • Take part in NHS Test and Trace
  • Turn people with coronarivus symptoms away
  • Wear a visor and mask
  • Keep clients apart
  • Help your staff maintain social distancing
  • Communicate and train (staff and customers)
  • Keep music and other background noise to a minimum

Other steps that have been encouraged in salons include the following.

  • Non-contact temperature checks
  • Hairdressers will wear masks
  • Disposable gowns and towels
  • “Sneeze screens” at the front desks
  • Pre-payment before arrival to limit face-to-face interaction at reception
  • All food and drink banned
  • Magazines removed and waiting areas prohibited
  • Conversations to be kept to a minimum

How to book a massage near you

If you're already Googling 'massage therapist near me' for when your local treatments reopen, you're in luck, as you can already browse appointments for when restrictions ease in your area.

Sites like Treatwell offer search features that point you towards massage places in your area, with appointments available on the same day. You can choose from various types of massage, from deep tissue to Swedish or hot stone.

Find out more

Alternatively, head to a spa-specific site like Spa Seekers, which can filter your searches for spa breaks, deals, weekends and more. Perfect if you're looking to get away for a few days when you can!

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