Fairfax Massage Regulations: Time for Reform

by Daniel Melmed

Update 6/18/14:

In response to my letters, I was contacted by the Chief of Regulation and Licensing in Fairfax County, Virginia.

She provided much useful information in response to my concerns. As I indicated in my initial post below, I needed to do some more research. What I’ve learned is that Fairfax County, while optional according to Virginia law, regulates many other industries in a similar fashion to massage therapists.

Therefore, it is difficult to claim they are discriminating specifically against massage therapists. I did note however that the County forbids therapists from providing massage outcalls to hotels, including all of those in Tyson’s Corner, which is, in my view, prejudicial treatment.

Fortunately the Chief agreed to take a look at this, as she has heard from others before that this is a nuisance to hotel operators and their guests.

She also explained that the City of Fairfax is a totally distinct jurisdiction from the County, which is why it also has its own set of rules, procedures and regulations.

Unfortunately, the ones who are most inconvenienced by all of these little jurisdictions, each with their own permits and regulations, are those therapists performing outcalls.

Unlike establishment-based therapists who go to work at the same local place every time, outcall massage therapists often travel over a large radius – maybe even up to 30 miles on a typical day. In the DC region, 30 miles can cross over 5 or more jurisdictions.

Getting a permit for each and every one is rather unrealistic, and the result is that most therapists probably would rather take their chances and not comply, or maybe worse, just give up and see their income potential seriously hampered.

The bottom line is that providing mobile or “outcall” massage in the DC region is incredibly challenging, if not almost completely impractical, due to all of the jurisdictions involved. It’s no wonder that most have given up on trying to change anything.


Fairfax Massage: Time to Repeal Local Regulations

Last week a massage therapist in Northern Virginia contacted me regarding regulations for massage in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax. He had seen that I was the driving force behind last year’s changes to the massage regulations in Alexandria Virginia.

In that case I had worked with the Alexandria city Council to essentially repeal all of their local massage regulations, which were unfair and over burdensome on Massage Therapists, and also unnecessary due to existing regulation at the state level.

In Alexandria, they followed the lead of Arlington County which had likewise repealed local massage regulations for similar commonsense reasons.

Unfortunately, as this Fairfax Massage Therapist pointed out to me, regulations like this still do exist in Fairfax and I have to agree with him that it’s time we get them changed too.

“What kind of regulations do they place on a Fairfax massage therapist?” you may wonder.

Honestly, I have yet to do a little more research; however, my understanding is that at least it requires extra fees, a waiting period for the county license, and fingerprinting.

While not as extreme and restrictive as the previous Alexandria regulations, these alone are enough to frustrate me, and from what I’ve heard from many NoVA massage therapists over the past several years since Body Well Mobile Massage has been doing business in the Washington DC Metro area, many, many more Fairfax massage therapists as well.

Fingerprinting? Really? In 2014 you have local municipalities requiring Virginia Certified Massage Therapists (CMTs) to be fingerprinted?

Apparently massage therapists are prone to all kinds of criminal activity and we must be singled out amongst all of the other professions as one that requires a high degree of scrutiny from the local authorities.

Maybe they have seen gangs of menacing Massage Therapists roaming the streets of Fairfax threatening to rub stranger’s shoulders! “Look out he’s carrying concealed massage oil!”

Or do they just think that for the most part we are all a bunch of prostitutes?

Instead of enforcing existing criminal law they feel the need to discriminate against us because we have very little political clout or financing to fight against local governments like Fairfax that create regulations without seeing all sides, and getting with modern times.

This is not to mention that Massage Therapists already face serious challenges as far as licensing and licensing fees when trying to earn an honest living in the DC region.

Since there is no cooperation between the states of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, Massage Therapists who live close to one of those borders, which most do, have to go and get licensed and pay all of the associated fees within each one of these jurisdictions!

These license fees really add up, and having to pay one more of them for an unnecessary local county permit is like adding insult to injury. I am sure that the tiny amount of fees collected from Fairfax Massage Therapists relative to the larger Fairfax County budget would not be missed.

On the other hand, for these hard-working therapists every dollar counts and this is just one more tax that Massage Therapists in Fairfax have to pay – because of what?

Outdated regulations that disrespect those who practice this increasingly important healthcare profession

Well I’ve got news for you Fairfax: its not right. It’s not fair. Enough is enough. And Massage Therapists are proud professionals who are sick and tired of bending over for local governments that don’t get it and aren’t willing to progress as our profession has over the past twenty years.

So Fairfax, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way would be to recognize that these regulations no longer have any useful or fair purpose. Follow the lead of your wise neighbors in Arlington County and Alexandria and get rid of your local Fairfax massage regulations now!

Or, stay stuck in the past and stubbornly cling to these ridiculous, pointless laws, and thereby force myself and others in the massage and wellness community to shine a spotlight on the absurdity and prejudice of your choices.

I will be working this summer on bringing this issue to the Fairfax County government’s full attention, and hopefully they will show the wisdom that their neighbors have shown already and implement, without undue delay, reasonable reforms for the benefit of all concerned.

You can help the cause! Email the City and County leaders and urge them to take action!

Email the City of Fairfax Mayor and Council at mayor&council@fairfaxva.gov