THE industry body that represents massage therapists has demanded government clarity on ‘confusing and unfair’ home and mobile working rules as parts of the West of Scotland were put into partial lockdown.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said yesterday that those who provide treatments from home can continue - with no bar on the number of clients admitted to a property - as the current restrictions only affect social visits to other households.

Workers carrying out repairs, installations and deliveries can also continue to access homes while regulated care providers can provide health and social care to those who need it. 

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Mobile massage therapists and beauticians have not yet been given clearance to begin working, unlike in England. The restriction in Scotland has also not affected mobile hairdressing, which other close contact industries say is unfair.

Meanwhile the Scottish Massage Therapists Organisation (SMTO), issued a statement on its Facebook page yesterday advising some home workers to cease trading immediately amid confusion over the new restrictions.

The SMTO said anyone who does not have an exit which allows clients to enter their home without coming into contact with anyone else in the household should stop while the current restrictions are in place banning social visits.

Therapists who do not live in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire or East Renfrewshire were also advised not to treat clients from those areas if they do not have a separate exit.

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The SMTO said the guidance was issued as an ‘extra precaution’ given rising cases and because it was unable to get clarity from the government about any changes to home therapists practicising. The government said it had not issued this guidance.

In reference to mobile work, the SMTO said: “There is a lot of angst from (mobile)_ therapists that have still not earned since March. 

“And given the new restrictions in Glasgow and surrounding areas, it is unlikely mobile therapists will get back to work anytime soon.

“They feel that because a (mobile) hairdresser stands behind a client (it is less of  a risk) but a massage therapist can easily treat below the shoulders and still continue to earn a living.”

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A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Personal retail services, including massage therapies, beauty therapies and complimentary therapies resumed on 22 July 2020 where the service is carried out in the therapist’s own premises.

“Following the advice of our Clinical Professional Advisory Group, we are asking that massage therapy and close contact complementary and alternative therapy is only carried out on the therapist’s own premises whilst we consider what further guidance is required for mobile therapists.

It comes after a mobile beauty therapist who has been unable to resume working expressed concern that the industry had “fallen from the cracks.”

Eileen Wood, 50, from Fife, voiced her frustration that beauty therapists are yet to be given any indication of when they will be able to earn money again.

Before lockdown, Ms Wood was a self-employed beauty therapist and spent her days travelling around the East Neuk of Fife visiting her clients.

She said she has now been forced to claim Universal Credit, saying: “I’m going to lose my business - my clients are going to start going to salons and they won’t come back to me.”