You can't get a tattoo because of COVID-19 restrictions, but you can now get them removed.
You can also now get other aesthetic, or cosmetic, non-medical procedures done, including Botox shots, tummy tucks, breast enhancement and lip enhancements.
Under changes posted on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba website late last week, doctors who provide care that is not medically indicated, including aesthetic services and procedures, are able to begin doing so again, starting Jan. 8.
It means a clinic such as Dr. Earl Minuk's on Grosvenor Avenue can reopen for the first time in weeks, while others, such as Skinwise on Taylor Avenue or Derm Centre on Grant Avenue, can again begin procedures on the cosmetic side.
College registrar Dr. Anna Ziomek said Tuesday the decision was made by the governing body in November — not the province under code red — to shut down such procedures when the numbers of Manitobans testing positive for the coronavirus started to increase "at an alarming rate, with an unknown plateau, and an unknown degree of anticipated stress to the medical system, ICUs, hospitals, physicians, other health-care providers and staff."
"(The college) considered it necessary for the medical profession to support code red with the closing of services that are done by physicians for reasons that are not medically necessary, such as aesthetic services. This was not required under the public health directives, but was considered to be the responsible thing to do," she said.
Now that COVID numbers are dropping and stresses to the medical system can be anticipated, the college believes it can relax such restrictions and allow aesthetic services and procedures to reopen, Ziomek said.
Cosmetic surgeons and clinics are still being warned to consider the risks and benefits of the various procedures before going ahead, including whether it is worth the possibility of a patient potentially being exposed to COVID-19 and whether scarce resources, such as acute care, would be needed if the procedure has complications, she said.
These types of procedures are all performed in private clinics, not in hospitals, and patients pay for them out of their own pocket, Ziomek said.
"It does not have an impact on elective surgeries and medical procedures that are insured services by the health-care system that are medically required, whether provided in public or private facilities."
A spokeswoman for the provincial government said it has no comment because public health was not involved in the college's decision and the province never stopped aesthetic services as part of its code-red restrictions.
"The contradictions in policy is stark... even a procedure like acupuncture is similar, too, with needles and being close for long sessions, and it is allowed and we aren't." –Rich Handford, Manitoba Body Art Association
That still doesn't make tattoo artist Rich Handford any happier. Tattoo parlours have been forced by the province to shutter since October, as well as last spring for weeks, under pandemic restrictions.
"How ironic," said Handford, who owns Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg and is co-chairman of the Manitoba Body Art Association, when he heard such procedures can restart.
"The contradictions in policy is stark... even a procedure like acupuncture is similar, too, with needles and being close for long sessions, and it is allowed and we aren't."
The association is continuing to ask the province for permission to reopen, Handford said.
Dr. Victoria Taraska of the Derm Centre said during the weeks of code red the aesthetics side of the clinic was shuttered but the medical dermatology side remained open.
"We are rehiring our staff that were laid off and assessing our current clinic needs," Taraska said.
"We have not fully decided what services we will offer, as we are reviewing all safety concerns first to keep staff and patients safe... There is an overwhelming desire from patients to return safely and we are not rushing to open fully, just safely, and not contribute to the spread of COVID."
All services might not be available at this time, she said.
"Everyone will have to be patient."
All in-person care is to follow current provincial rules, including using personal protective equipment, social distancing, mask wearing and capacity limits.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.