Local tattoo shop tackles COVID-19 precautions amidst influx of customers

True North Tattoo implements Plexiglass shields, no walk-ins, and questionnaires to protect public

True North Tattoo is located on 159 Queen Street in Kingston.
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COVID-19 has improved business for Wayne Murrill, owner of Kingston’s True North Tattoo, and now he must meet the demand while keeping his staff and customers safe.
 
The Journal spoke with Murrill, who has been tattooing for more than 26 years and opened True North about 10 years ago. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, he has implemented a number of safety measures at his shop to protect his staff and clients as the shop experiences an uptick in popularity. 
 
“I would have expected COVID to harm business, but we are busier than we were before we closed,” Murrill said. “I guess you can indirectly attribute that to what is going on because we had a three and a half month back-log of people. While we were closed the line-up out the door got longer and longer.”
 
While True North Tattoo once accepted walk-in visits, they are now appointment only. Customers are also expected to fill out a questionnaire before entering to assess whether they’re experiencing symptoms. 
 
“I think it was kind of a case of the damn breaking when we reopened; we were just flooded with requests. That seems to have subsided some. Now we are back to our normal level,” Murill told The Journal. 
 
True North has eliminated its waiting room and taken away tattoo portfolios and other reading material such as magazines, which had the potential to become contaminated. 
 
Staff have also implemented spot wipe-downs throughout the shop with disinfectant and installed plexiglass shields between stations. In accordance with local health guidelines, each tattooist wears a face shield. 
 
According to Murrill, his clients are responding very well to the changes.
 
“Our clientele has been really good about it, really understanding,” Murrill said. “I think a lot of people appreciate [the safety measures].”
 
Despite the influx of tattoo requests beginning to level out, Murrill said his tattooists are still backlogged for months, with some being booked until October and others all the way to December. 
 
This has made booking appointments while maintaining safe social distancing guidelines into something of a logistical feat.
 
Speaking on the challenges of scheduling, Murrill said the store has a a fifth tattooer, but she’s currently on maternity leave.
 
“When she comes back, we will be dealing with that situation. She shares a station with her husband. I might have to make some modifications to it, to put a barrier between them. I might have to change-up the scheduling.”
 
One change that has drawn some flack, however, is the new policy that says only the person being tattooed may enter the shop.
 

“The one thing that I have heard more often than any other is the folks who wish to have a friend come along with them,” Murrill said.

“To be honest, that’s been a welcomed addition by us. It’s kind of nice having an excuse to tell people they can’t bring a whole posse of friends with them, so we can actually concentrate on the work at hand.” 

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