There have been many changes in the massage therapy and cosmetology industries and communities in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), including executive orders affecting businesses, emergency rulemaking changing renewal timelines, and distance learning modifying the student experience. ABMP, ASCP, and AHP have summarized below how COVID-19 has impacted the licensing regulations and laws in the state of Texas and encourage you to pay special attention to the CARES Act outlined at the bottom of this email, which addresses financial aid and unemployment benefits.
Prohibition of Practice
Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-14 yesterday. The Stay-at-Home order begins April 2, 2020, through to April 30, 2020. The Governor clarified in the order what services are deemed essential and non-essential. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) issued a statement on March 31, 2020, that specifically prohibits services being provided from licensed massage therapists, barbers, and cosmetologists.
ABMP, ASCP, and AHP update members daily regarding COVID-19 and how it's impacting businesses, and legislative and regulatory changes. Check in with us to stay in the know about Texas updates here for massage therapists and here for cosmetologists. In addition, the most current information regarding Texas can be found on the Governor's website.
TDLR is taking action to help combat the spread of COVID-19. On March 23, 2020, TDLR announced they are waiving continuing education requirements for all licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees will still need to submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and have their criminal histories checked, but they will not need to complete any required continuing education requirements this licensing cycle.
On March 12, 2020, TDLR enacted temporary emergency distance education provisions. The provisions allow currently licensed schools to offer distance education. However, distance learning can only cover theory hours and cannot exceed more than 50 percent of the course. Note: distance education will not satisfy hands-on requirements.
In addition, Pearson VUE, the provider of the MBLEx, has closed testing centers. View the statement issued by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards to learn more.
Also, see the TDLR statement released March 19, 2020, that addresses the closure of PSI, the provider of licensing exams for TDLR.
The CARES Act
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.
As self-employed unemployment benefits are new to the unemployment landscape, it is taking states some time to determine how to calculate wages for self-employed individuals. Everyone is working in a brave new world and creating systems on the fly, so it is taking a little longer before this is in place. We expect states to be up and running with these new unemployment benefits within the next two weeks.