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Berlin extends tattoo moratorium

A seven-year tattoo moratorium in Berlin was extended for another year Monday with the town officials expressing a need for more time to iron out health and safety details.

Downtown Berlin-file

Downtown Berlin sign
File photo

By Tara Fischer, Staff Writer

Berlin’s tattoo moratorium was extended for another year Monday with the town needing more time to iron out health and safety details for any potential skin art parlors.

In 2017, the town was approached by an individual wanting to open in Berlin a microblading service, a semi-permanent form of cosmetic tattooing. Because the municipality does not have regulations regarding these types of shops, a moratorium, or temporary stall, was established so that officials may seek additional health and safety information.

“Our view is that we are in an arts and entertainment area,” Mayor Zack Tyndall said. “If somebody chooses to make their canvas their skin, that’s up to them.”

However, the elected official maintained that tattoo parlors would need to be set up in acceptable zoning, and health and safety inspections would be required to guarantee quality service. The moratorium was established to prevent any entity from opening body design businesses before further information could be secured.

Berlin has been in contact with the University of Maryland School of Law and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to help determine the safest way to allow tattoo parlors in town.

“We have never had UMD from a legal perspective looking into this,” Tyndall said. “We have never had Johns Hopkins School of Public Health looking into this from a health standpoint. We have some more tools at our disposal to have that conversation, but it’s a year out at least.”

While the state of Maryland does not have tattoo regulations, unlike its neighboring states, Virginia and Delaware, Worcester County does have the policy that a physician is present at any business that offers skin art. After Worcester passed its ordinance, Ocean City soon followed suit after it was learned there was an interest in opening a tattoo parlor on the Boardwalk.

However, the mayor said the county’s ordinance only applies to entities outside of municipality-incorporated areas, and therefore, Berlin does not apply. Town officials have struggled to find a clear path forward without a written procedure.

Since the first attempt at an ink shop, Berlin has formed a tattoo advisory committee to facilitate the possibility of responsibly allowing individuals who are not licensed doctors to run parlors.

Tyndall also noted that there are Maryland entities that can legally provide tattoo services, but safety evaluations are not encouraged.

“The health department is not coming in and doing proactive health and safety inspections, which is what we want,” he said.

At the June 10 meeting, the tattoo moratorium was extended for another year so that the town could obtain further details. The motion passed unanimously.

This story appears in the June 13, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.