Chicago-Area Massage Therapists Mixed on When to Return to Work Due to Safety

Massage therapy is scheduled to be allowed in Illinois' phase three of reopen

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Illinois is preparing for the return of hair salons and message therapy sessions as the state prepares to enter phase three of its reopening process. But a licensed clinical massage therapist said it is too early to return to the massage table.

“I really do want to go back to it, but it’s not safe,” said Lauren Carella. “I’m worried about our clients getting sick and then spreading it.”

Massage therapy will be allowed in Illinois, possibly as early as May 29, as long as proper personal protective equipment and safety protocols are followed.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) said even with the most rigorous sanitation protocols, enhanced client screening and social distancing, there is still risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Carella told NBC 5 she has always taken the proper safety precautions, but she said it is not time yet to have skin on skin contact.

“Working with lotion makes gloves slip off. We all work in tiny rooms with poor ventilation,” Carella said. “I have many reasons why I feel extremely unsafe going back to work. More for my clients than myself.”

Carella also said she has not been able to secure everything she needs to get back to work safely.

"How am I supposed to buy the things I need to reopen when I haven't made money in two months?" Carella said.

According to the AMTA website, returning to work is a personal decision for massage therapists. Still, the association encourages massage therapists to adjust their practices accordingly.

Licensed massage therapist Kristina Velarde said she often hears from clients asking when she will be back at work.

“I believe that the people who do not feel comfortable coming to see me and clients and employers and other employees, it’s their prerogative to stay at home. But it’s mine to work and I want to get back to work,” Velarde said.

The professionals said they can help relieve you of general stress and anxiety, but how they help in the near future appears to be up to the individual massage therapists.

“I know everyone wants to get their massage and I really want to help everyone feel better,” Carella said. “But I will send you all the stretches. I will help you over Facetime.  I’ll show you how to use the massage ball."

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