Proposed tattoo waiting period draws outcry

WASHINGTON — Getting ink done on a whim may not be a dying art after all.

Last month, the District’s Department of Health proposed new regulations governing body art and the people who provide tattoos.

But no proposed rule has drawn more headlines and comments than a 24-hour waiting period for tattoos and body piercings.

It would effectively end the impulsive decision or the convenient walk-up.

The comment period on the rule changes ended Oct. 7.

“We got tons — hundreds — of comments,” says Najma Roberts, a DOH spokesperson. “We think this probably set a record for proposed regulations.”

The list of proposed rules is far more exhaustive than the waiting period alone. But tattoo parlors in particular raised the alarm that such a rule could put a major dent in walk-up business.

“We’ve heard not only from people in the District but from all over,” Roberts says.

Cynthia Rudzis, owner of Cirque Du Rouge along the H Street corridor, calls the proposed regulations “overreaching.”

“Some of these things almost smack of a moral judgment,” she says. “It almost says that we don’t know — or don’t care — who we’re tattooing and we don’t care about our clients.”

Rudzis believes the proposed rules are a new way to collect fees and fines. For her shop, the waiting period is not the biggest threat to business.

“We are completely capable of recognizing someone that is inebriated, that’s impaired and we don’t want to work with them either,” she says. “We don’t want to create a regret for somebody.”

The Department of Health is reviewing the hundreds of comments and could make adjustments to the proposed regulations.

Any changes would result in another 30-day comment period.

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