A Message from ABMP President Les Sweeney on COVID-19

This post is adapted from a message sent to ABMP members on Friday, March 6, from ABMP president Les Sweeney. We will be compiling the information regarding COVID-19 within this message, and updating that list with the latest as the situation develops.

I hope this note finds you well. As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreads in the United States, we all share in this unprecedented moment of concern and uncertainty about what will come next. I would characterize my own feelings as cautious and concerned, but not panicked (no point in that, since that won't help).

Here at ABMP, our focus as always is to meet the needs of our members and perform our duties with excellence. And an important part of this is doing so with our entire team's safety and health at the forefront. We haven't had to make any great concessions yet—maybe not as many high fives and some extra diligence in washing our hands. Our thoughts are with all of you who earn your living through human touch. We have begun to receive questions about safety practices and guidance on giving massage. An issue like COVID-19 clearly represents a potential threat to our normal way of life, and for many clients that might mean questioning whether to receive massage or bodywork—and whether to give massage or bodywork, in your case.

Unfortunately, there is no guidebook or directive to let us know the absolute correct answer, or even when that answer might change. The Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and World Health Organization (www.who.int) are our guiding authorities when it comes to health issues. At this point, they are encouraging good hygiene (something massage and bodywork professionals are steeped in already) and to avoid contact with others if you are sick (always good practice; critical in these times). Neither of those directives suggest not getting massage if you are in good health. I got my regular massage this week and intend to keep doing so.

We are doing our best to make sure we have helpful and pertinent up-to-date information on www.abmp.com. Here is an overview of material that we have shared thus far:

We wanted to let you know that your professional association is monitoring the situation and, as always, is focused on providing you outstanding service and support. We wish you good health.
Warm Regards,
Les Sweeney



Thank you for this encouraging post. Wondering how to respond to the the urge for social distancing? See article below. I live in Colorado where the infection rates are high with community spread. I believe an email and guidance from our professional organization about this topic is extremely important. Incredibly important info from a physician CEO affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, who runs the innovation think tank. "We are only about 11 days behind Italy ""Our health system will not be able to cope with the projected numbers of people who will need acute care should we not muster the fortitude and will to socially distance each other starting now."


Thank you for your time,


at this time I think it is appropriate to post an update for ABMP’s members and all bodyworkers now that the Covid-19 situation has become much more serious and widespread than it was 10 days ago. I myself am seriously considering temporarily closing my practice to help stop the spread. Please update us on any guidelines that are specific to MT’s. And please, do not say “wash your hands”. Of course that’s what everyone is already doing whether they’re a body worker or not. I hope to see new info from ABMP soon. 


Sole proprietors, massage therapists in private practice, as well as spas and clinics will need financial assistance as clients to cancel appointments due to the threat of Coronavirus. How is ABMP addressing the massive financial loss incurred by its membership? Thank you, Erin Headrick

State by state guidelines would be helpful. The problem isn't working while symptomatic, the problem is working while you're carrying the virus unknowingly, and we can't maintain 6 feet between us and our clients (though I recently have thought how nice it would be if I did energy work right now!) Are there massage therapists in the Colorado area, especially, who are not practicing? People who visited 4 mountain counties over the weekend are encouraged to self quarantine. I wasn't there, but my husband was. Guidelines state to minimize social contact and that, if you must go to work, maintain 6 feet distance. Obviously we can't. This is so hard! This is my livelihood and I know clients will continue to schedule despite the risks, but I so badly want to do the right thing.

I have read your latest guidance on Covid -19 dated 3/13.  I sincerely hope that you are planning to issue new guidance ASAP.  I disagree strongly with what you are recommending.  Massage therapy is a completely non-essential service in which therapists and clients breach the 6 foot social distancing guideline.   By still offering our services we are also inviting people to come to a public space where any one of us or our clients could be asymptomatic but still spreading the disease.  And no matter how careful we are, we cannot ensure that no germs are being shared in our office spaces.

 Rather than suggesting we all keep getting our massages, I would prefer to see guidance on what therapists can do if they are unable to work.  Can you recommend how therapists can seek small business support or loans?  What are things that ABMP can do to assist therapists should they be unable to work?   Are you,  as our professional organization, taking the lead to work with governments/states to see that some type of relief could be available to independent contractors in this business, as well as the small business owners?

I feel your role is imperative as everyone is looking for guidance.  While I have canceled all clients for the next two weeks, my business partners are continuing to see clients, citing the fact that they need to work and are following all current guidance for the disease.  I look to organizations such as ABMP to take the responsibility to keep your guidance updated and to do everything to stop the community spread of this virus.


Please help us to get financial assistance 


Will our insurance payment be deferred until we are able to get back to work? How will this be handled?

Thank you.


We LMTs need to have a solid YES or NO answer to the question posed  on Tracy Walton's decision tree posted on social media today:

- Is ABMP liability coverage active if the State in which the therapist works has declared a public health pandemic?

Hi Beau,

Your liability insurance policy is only valid if you are in compliance with your state’s regulations. If you are no longer authorized to work per regional orders, you are likely not in compliance with your state regulations and therefore your insurance would not be valid.

This question and other frequently asked questions can be found on our Coronavirus and Massage FAQ page here.

As Massachusetts is one of the hardest hit states with the Corona Virus, my office has been closed for the last six weeks as a 'non-essential' business.  Due to the uncertainty of safely providing the 'power of touch' in the future  I have been forced to permanently close my office.  Safety of my clients,  family and friends is my number one concern, however, financially this has been very painful. My question is how do I handle prepaid clients and issued gift certificates?  Other than my clients and landlord, who do I need to communicate with? Does ABMP provide any protocol quidelines on how to smoothly close an office?  Thank you.


New Massage Board Created in Alabama

On May 15, 2024, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law Senate Bill 137, terminating the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy and its functions to create the new Alabama Massage Therapy Licensing Board. Learn key takeaways from the bill and how its passage may affect you.

Tennessee Regulatory Update

Tennessee massage therapy education requirements increased from 500 hours to 650. ABMP would like to share an update to explain how that change came about and give some overdue credit to those who made it happen.

Alabama Board in Jeopardy of Dissolution

Without your support, the Alabama massage therapy profession is in danger of losing its regulatory board, which could result in inconsistent regulation or none at all. Call Governor Kay Ivey to encourage the passage of Senate Bill 137 to protect massage regulation.



Featured ABMP Discount Partner: Milady

Raise awareness of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and practical infection control by getting certified in Client Well-Being & Safety through this Milady course.

Please note: We have recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Learn more...