‘It’s a Waiting Game’: Tattoo Parlors Frustrated by County Reopening Rules

Tarun Kumar “TK” Rajkumar tattoos a client at Capitol Tattoos in Silver Spring.

Montgomery County entered Phase 2 of reopening on June 19, allowing many residents to finally get back to work. However, some businesses are still waiting to open, as the county strays from state guidelines by forcing tattoo parlors, tanning salons, massage parlors and other esthetic service providers to remain closed.

Tarun Kumar “TK” Rajkumar, a tattoo artist at Capitol Tattoos in Silver Spring, said that while he is thankful County Executive Marc Elrich is doing his best to keep the community safe, it’s frustrating not knowing why certain businesses are being singled out.

“Anywhere else in the DMV all other tattoo shops are open. So we have not gotten a reason and we are not able to give our clients a time frame on when we will be open up,” said Rajkumar.

Bethesda Tattoo Company owner James Hughes echoed frustrations in an interview with WTOP, saying that watching neighboring shops reopen is “kind of a slap in the face.”

Initially, Elrich had said that Phase 3 decisions couldn’t be made until after the Fourth of July due to a potential spike in cases. However, that timeline has since been extended as officials wait for cases to drop rather than continue to plateau.

“Doing better is not the same thing as doing well,” said Elrich in an interview with Fox 5 news. “We’ve seen what’s happened around this in the rest of the country from people who open too quickly…and we’re going to be careful. My first responsibility is to keep people healthy.”

And while health and safety are important to consider, being out of work for months with no end in sight has been very difficult for many employees. When asked if he would consider moving to an open shop if things continue, Rajkumar said he wants to stay at Capitol Tattoos.

“I love where I work and I love what I do…I’m part of the tattoo family at Capitol Tattoo and there is no changing to that,” he said. Rajkumar added that his family and loyal clientele have helped him to cope with the pandemic.

“All my clients have kept in touch with me. They are reaching out to me, seeing how I’m doing, they’re giving me tattoo ideas till then to draw out and keep ready for when we open back up,” he said.

And when they finally do get to open, Rajkumar says that Capitol Tattoo is ready.

“We wouldn’t have more than one client at the shop…we were ready with our sterilization procedures, cleaning up of the tattoo chairs, making sure we are working by appointment only, so that way we can be sure that we are eliminating any risk of transmitting anything,” said Rajkumar.

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About Tori Bergel

Tori Bergel is an intern at Montgomery Community Media. She is a rising senior within the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. She can be reached at tbergel@mymcmedia.org. Follow her on twitter at @BergelTori.

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