When can massage therapists work again in the UK? The latest updates

With various restrictions in place across the UK, when can massage therapists work again in your area? Here's the latest news

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

Many people are wondering when can massage therapists work again in all areas of the UK and are massages allowed along with other beauty and wellbeing treatments now that a huge majority of the UK remains under some form of lockdown restrictions until Christmas?

While massages are a rare treat for some, R&R treatments have well and truly been put on hold for most of this year and for those who've spent the majority of 2020 working from home at makeshift desks with bad posture and back pain, few things would be more welcome than a proper massage right now. 

While fellow household members or partners might be able to do a half-decent job of loosening any knots, it never quite compares to professional beauty treatments.

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. 

With a new tier system now in place, can massage therapists work again in the UK?

When can massage therapists work again?

In England, massage therapists can work in December 2020 - regardless of what tier your area is in. The government confirmed that all non-essential businesses, including personal care services such as massages, could resume across tiers 1, 2 and 3 from December 2nd onwards. 

In Wales and parts of Scotland in "lower tier" areas, it's still permitted to hire the services of a massage therapist.

Massage therapists are now required by law to wear both a clear visor or goggles and a face mask for the duration of any treatment. 

Read on for more details on when and where massage therapists can work again the the UK in December 2020:

Wearing full PPE (personal protective equipment), Theresa Shangazhike, manager of the Spa Experience Wimbledon, gives her client, Lauren Shine a facial treatment in Wimbledon, south London on August 15, 2020

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can I book a massage in England?

All beauty services, including massages, are allowed to open and resume in tiers 1, 2 and 3 in December 2020.

'Close contact services' such as massages can either take place in a treatment room or in your own home. They can also be carried out in other settings/premises, providing these are not required to be closed by law.

You may be asked to wear a face covering for the duration of your massage.

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 under tier 1. In all other tiers, you cannot book a massage therapist to visit you in your property to get a massage at home.

Can I get a massage in Wales?

Yes! A "fire break" lockdown took place between 23rd October and 9th November, but since then beauty services have been allowed to resume. Both in salon and at-home massages can take place, provided that all safety and hygiene precautions are followed. 

Beauty and massage therapist Joanne Moores, who is still unable to work, poses for a portrait in her treatment room at Serephina Holistic and Wellbeing Centre

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can I get a massage in Northern Ireland?

The two-week circuit breaker rules still apply in Northern Ireland until Friday December 11th, meaning that massage therapists are not allowed to work unless it is "as part of a medically approved/sanctioned care package".

After December 11th 2020, the government have announced that close contact services - including massage services - will be able to reopen in Northern Ireland. These services will only be allowed to run 'by appointment only', but this means that you will be able to book a massage in Northern Ireland after December 11th 2020. 

Can I get a massage in tier 3 in England?

Yes. Although prior to the second lockdown local authorities could impose additional rules within their tier, there will be no variation between areas in England from the 2nd of December.

Previously, when Nottingham moved into tier 3, local authorities imposed a blanket ban on almost all beauty services, including massages. On the other hand, beauty businesses were not affected when West Yorkshire was placed under tier 3 restrictions.

Can I get a massage in Endland in tier 2?

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

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

The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) confirmed in an online statement that while there was initially no sector-specific advice from the government, massage therapists must now: "follow guidelines and announcements issued by their local government and authorities, which are being updated on a regular basis."

This includes wearing PPE, ensuring customers wear face masks and regularly cleaning surfaces and equipment. 

The government's guidance for "people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists" includes the following 'priority actions' that they must follow:

  • 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!

Find out more