There have been many changes in the massage therapy, esthetics, and cosmetology professions and communities in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), from proclamations affecting business closures, to emergency rulemaking altering renewal timelines, to distance learning modifying continuing education requirements. ABMP, ASCP, AHP, and ANP have summarized below how COVID-19 has impacted the licensing regulations and laws in the state of Iowa, and we encourage you to look at the information regarding the CARES Act and financial programs developed to aid the unemployed at the bottom of this email.
Prohibition of Practice
Iowa Governor Kimberly K. Reynolds issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency (https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Health%...) on March 22, 2020, to implement social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and announced additional business closures within the state. Salons offering cosmetology, esthetics, nail technology, manicuring, and pedicuring services; medical spas; barbershops; and massage therapy establishments are closed to the public through March 31, 2020. On April 27, 2020, Governor Reynolds amended the Proclamation (https://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov/documents/disasters/proclamations/...) and extended business closures through May 27, 2020. At that time, a determination will be made to extend or relax the order, and we will notify members of the decision, which will affect your back-to-practice date.
ABMP, ASCP, AHP, and ANP update members daily regarding state orders, practice prohibition, and reopening processes. View Iowa updates here for massage therapists (https://www.abmp.com/updates/news/information-abmp-members-state-shutdow...) and here for estheticians and cosmetologists (https://www.ascpskincare.com/updates/blog-posts/state-updates-regarding-...). The most current information regarding coronavirus in your state can be found on the COVID-19 in Iowa website (https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/). Please check with your local city or county to see if they have reopening orders stricter than Iowa state orders. With some states giving authority to local governments regarding work authorization, your liability insurance is only valid if you are in compliance with whichever regulations are the most restrictive—state or local. If you are not authorized to work per state or regional orders, and you are working, you are not in compliance with your state or local regulations and therefore your insurance would not be valid.
Continuing Education Requirements
Section Five of the Proclamation (https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Health%...) (p. 4) suspends rules relating to continuing education deadlines or in-person continuing education requirements as a condition of license renewal for massage therapists, estheticians, and cosmetologists. The suspension is temporary and is for this renewal cycle only. Due to the decreased opportunities to complete in-person continuing education, licensees will not be required to complete a minimum number of hands-on training for their renewal, even if their renewal is after the end of the Proclamation.
When completing the renewal application, you will need to say you have completed the required continuing education, even if you have not completed the hours—this will not be held against you. The Iowa Board of Massage Therapy and the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences still encourage licensees to take any continuing education possible in the interim to remain competent in your profession.
Section Six of the Proclamation (https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Health%...) (p. 4) suspends rules relating to license renewals for massage therapists, estheticians, and cosmetologists. The suspension is temporary and in effect only during the length of the Proclamation. Licenses that expire during the Proclamation will not be required to be renewed for the duration of the Proclamation. This means licenses set to expire on March 31, 2020, will have 30 days after the Proclamation expires on May 27, 2020, to renew without penalty.
Practice Modifications and Protocol Guidelines
We understand there is a fine line between getting back to work and earning an income and protecting the safety of you and your clients. When the time comes and Iowa slowly begins to lift some of the restrictions on personal care services allowing businesses to reopen, you may find yourself in need of some back-to-practice guidance. What follows is a hierarchy of ideas and precautions we strongly encourage you to consider for yourself, your practice, and your clients.
ABMP, ASCP, AHP, and ANP have assembled a comprehensive series of back-to-practice guidelines packed with ideas and precautions. We encourage you to start with the summary here for massage therapists (https://www.abmp.com/back-to-practice/summary), here for estheticians (www.ascpskincare.com/back-to-practice/summary), and here for cosmetologists (www.associatedhairprofessionals.com/back-to-practice/summary), which provides a good synopsis. We address how to prepare and sanitize your treatment rooms, safe client-practitioner interaction, in-session protection protocols, post-session sanitation and best practices, and business tips from marketing to cancellation policies. We hope the guidelines prove to be informative and helpful, and that they lessen the uneasiness during this uncertain time.
On March 27, 2020, it was announced that Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion deal to provide economic relief to those most affected by COVID-19. The CARES act expands unemployment to part-time employees and self-employed massage therapists, estheticians, and cosmetologists—workers who have not historically been eligible for unemployment compensation. Iowa allows for unemployment benefits up to a maximum of $591 per week; however, not everyone will qualify for this amount. In addition, the federal government will be issuing $600 per week via the CARES Act, retroactive to March 29, 2020, through July 31, 2020. Benefits have been expanded in Iowa to 39 weeks.
Iowa is offering the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. You can start the application process here (https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/pua-information). If you were paid as an employee at a job and earned more than $2,500 in that position since January 1, 2019, your unemployment will be based on that job. PUA only applies if you have no W-2 employment. PUA benefits are equal to half of the state’s average weekly unemployment benefits. For example, if you were eligible to receive $300 per week under regular unemployment, your PUA benefits would be $150 per week. Applicants must first apply for regular unemployment insurance prior to filing for PUA.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offered two programs via the CARES Act: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) (https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/pa...) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Loan Advance (EIDL) (https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications#section-header-2). Unfortunately, at this time, only agricultural business applications for the EIDL program will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability. However, the PPP program is still accepting applications. To apply, assemble the required paperwork and contact a potential bank or lender (also consider some credit unions, PayPal, Quicken, Intuit, or Square) as soon as possible. We have heard that there are already so many applications in the pipeline that funds are expected to be depleted soon.
One reminder: The onboarding of all programs has proven to be much slower than was initially thought, and there have been glitches in almost every federal and state program. The overwhelming number of applicants and government agencies that are coming up with new processes are slowing systems down that were not ready for the volume of people contacting them.
In addition, many states’ economic development programs or small business programs have additional loans and assistance available locally—research what you have in your state by searching online for these programs. Find out more about your financial assistance programs, tax credits, tax deadline extensions, health insurance options, and Medicaid in ABMP’s Financial Benefits Update blog post (https://www.abmp.com/updates/news/financial-benefits-update).
We appreciate your membership. Stay safe and well.