Colorado COVID-19 State Update for Massage Therapists

There have been many changes in the massage therapy and cosmetology industries and communities in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), from executive orders affecting businesses, to distance learning modifying the student experience. ABMP, ASCP, AHP, and ANP have summarized below how COVID-19 has impacted the licensing regulations and laws in the state of Colorado, and we encourage you to look at the information regarding the economic assistance information outlined at the bottom of this email, which addresses financial aid, unemployment benefits, and other programs.

Practice Restrictions and Reopening 

Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued Executive Order D 2020 017 on March 25, 2020, ordering all Coloradans to stay at home effective March 6, 2020, through April 11, 2020. Governor Polis later issued Executive Order D 2020 24 on April 6, 2020, that extended the stay at home order through April 26, 2020.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued Order 20-22 on March 19, 2020, which ordered the closure of nonessential personal service facilities through April 30, 2020. "Nonessential personal services" are those that are not necessary to maintain an individual's health or safety, and include but are not limited to, hair and nail salons, spas, or massage establishments.

The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) issued a list for guidance concerning the "critical" versus "non-critical" designations of DORA-regulated professions and services in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Massage therapy is permitted in Colorado only if the licensee is providing services through a medical office and is adhering to Executive Order D 2020 027 which prohibits elective procedures.

On April 20, 2020, Governor Polis announced that the state of Colorado is beginning the gradual process of reopening as of Monday, April 27, 2020. Elective procedures will be permitted, which means massage therapists, estheticians, and cosmetologists could go back to work April 27, 2020. ABMP is working with state officials regarding what the work environment post-COVID-19 may look like for massage therapists and cosmetologists. At a minimum, expect to see a change in cleaning protocols, wearing gloves and masks when appropriate, distancing workstations six (6) feet apart, and limiting clients in waiting areas/lobbies.

Large companies will be opening May 4, 2020, with no more than 50% of workers at a time in the workspace and are advised to check temperatures of workers as they arrive, and continue with the use of masks, gloves, and social distancing where possible. People at the state are working hard to come up with guidelines this week and the next, and we will keep you informed once such recommendations become available.

Check in with us to stay in the know about Colorado updates here for massage therapists and here for cosmetologists. The most current information regarding what is happening in Colorado can be found on the COVID-19 in Colorado webpage. Local governments are allowed to make stricter guidelines, for example Denver's closure goes through April 30, 2020, so be sure to be aware of your local county or municipalities orders.

Massage and Cosmetology Schools 

The Colorado Department of Private Occupational Schools (DPOS) is allowing for distance learning and program modification due to COVID-19. On March 19, 2020, the DPOS issued guidance encouraging schools to modify their programs to allow for online instruction. DPOS must be notified if you are changing or closing your educational program. In addition, DPOS has a lot of information for Private Occupational Schools as it pertains to the pandemic, as well as services and programs available to schools. Visit their website to find out more.

Cosmetology Advisory Board 

A recent review of the DORA cosmetology page announced that the Cosmetology Advisory Board has two openings for Professional Members. If you are a licensed cosmetologist and are interested being a member of the Advisory Board, please contact the Board Administrator here.

Economic Assistance 

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 and cosmetologists—workers who have not historically been eligible for unemployment compensation.

Colorado allows for unemployment benefits up to a maximum of $561 per week; however, not everyone will qualify for this amount. In addition, the federal government will be issuing $600 per week from March 29, 2020 through July 31, 2020, via the CARES Act. To help provide extra relief during this crisis, benefits have been expanded in Colorado to 39 weeks.

As of April 20, 2020, Colorado is offering Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which will provide unemployment benefits for those who are independent contractors, self-employed, gig workers, and others who might be eligible for unemployment under the terms of regular unemployment. Start the process here. PUA benefits are retroactive to February 2, 2020. The federal contribution of $600 per week is retroactive to March 29, 2020.

Unemployment benefits are reportable as taxable information. Conversations with state personnel indicate that if you have not filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, file whatever you have – receipts, bank accounts, pay stubs, square account records – to show your income. For those who are both self-employed and have a second job as an employee who receives a W2, you can only apply for one of those jobs. The information on your W2 is what unemployment will record, unless you made less than $2,500 on your W2 since January 1, 2019. The bottom line is that if you have employee information and self-employment information, you are probably only going to get your unemployment based on your W2 wages and the $600 from the federal government through July 31, 2020.

The CARES Act also provided funding for two Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and programs: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance (EIDL). As of April 16, 2020, funding for both programs was depleted. As of April 21, 2020, we've learned that Congress and the administration came to an agreement, and will be adding funds to both the PPP ($310 billion) and EIDL ($60 billion) programs. Congress is expected to pass the bill this week. If you intend to apply for either of these programs, we encourage you to  assemble the required paperwork and contact a potential bank lender now so you can apply when the application process is open. If you applied for an EIDL loan, be patient. Applications that were received prior to the funding running out are just now being processed. Wait to hear from the SBA regarding already submitted EIDL applications. If you did not submit an application earlier, now is the time to submit one if you are interested in doing so.

In the meantime, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade has created a database of alternate funding resources for small business owners in need that are alternatives to the PPP or EIDL. In addition, the Colorado Small Business Development Center has another database of resources for small businesses that offers property tax relief or help with utility bills and the like.

One soft reminder – the onboarding of all programs, from federal relief programs to unemployment benefits for the self-employed, has proven to be much slower than was initially thought and planned, and there have been glitches in almost every federal and state program. The overwhelming numbers of applicants and government agencies that are trying to come up with new processes are slowing systems down that were not ready for the sheer volume of people contacting them. As a result, please be patient; they are all trying. Also, refer to ABMP's Financial Benefits blog post that outlines info the available financial aid programs to help you make informed decisions. The blog also has information about tax credits, tax deadline extensions, and health insurance. NOTE: the blog post is a work in progress and is modified when new information is obtained.

Please let us know if you hear of any updates to the closure orders or if you have information about the unemployment application process by emailing us at We appreciate your membership. Stay safe and well.