Happy New (COVID) Year, Again
Here we are again. I don’t think most of us thought, when we first temporarily closed the studio on March 16 of 2020 during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, that we would be going into our third year of the pandemic, much less that we would be faced with tightening (and not loosening) protocols. Yet, here we are. Happy New (COVID) Year, again.
Looking back at our last New Year’s post, there may have been some misplaced optimism:
Here at Infinite Body Piercing, we’re as excited as everyone else to have finally put 2020 behind us. Even though we’re all still hunkering down at home, avoiding restaurants and any unnecessary travel, there seems to be a (faint) light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel that is this Coronavirus-induced shutdown. As we see news reports of the first wave of vaccinations, we’re making the first steps toward reintroducing some of our piercing services we haven’t offered since closing last March. Happy New (COVID) Year!
Little did we know that the second wave, the Delta variant, and now Omicron would make this optimism seem so naive and misguided. They say hindsight is 2020.
I’m currently reading Apollo's Arrow by Nick Christakis. He’s a physician and sociologist who has been looking at the current pandemic through both a medical and sociological lens. I first discovered him through the video below.
You can find many similar interviews with him across YouTube, and he often repeats a variation of what he says here: “I think that it’s safe to say, while we are not unfortunately at the beginning of the end of this repertory pandemic, we are thankfully approaching the end of the beginning.” He goes on to outline, based on historical precedent, what we can expect from the pandemic in 2022, 2023, and then going into 2024. Suffice to say, this is going to have lasting effects for years to come.
Going Into 2022
Providing personal services during a pandemic has been challenging. Opening a second studio in the middle of this pandemic has been something else altogether. We recently celebrated the twenty-seven-year anniversary of the opening of Infinite’s Philadelphia location on February first. (Happy Anniversary to us!) We’ve had a whole lot of history happen around us—and to us. Our Baltimore location is still the new kid on the block, as we opened in June of 2020, right in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic. We’ve never known anything different here!
Things slowly changed through 2021. After being open for six months, on January 4 of last year we started offering nostril and septum services for the first time in Baltimore, in addition to adding kids’ ear piercing services. On April 2 we again started offering nostril and septum piercings in Philly. On July 1 we expanded our services in Baltimore to include oral piercings—again, the first time we were offering these piercings at this location. By this time, vaccine appointments were open and available to everyone, and COVID restrictions were slowly starting to loosen up everywhere. We were starting to feel like we were making progress toward being “back to normal,” but that was sadly not to be.
After an optimistic summer came the “breakthrough” cases, infecting even those who were vaccinated with first the Delta and then Omicron variants. With the drastic spike in infections poised to happen around the holidays, on December 20 of 2021 we made the difficult decision to once again suspend all piercing services under masks. We ended the year like everyone else, frustrated and a little scared about what the holidays would bring.
As anticipated, the Omicron variant was widespread. Like with most businesses around us, January was especially difficult, and we battled our own staffing shortages as positive cases rose, with employees out because of possible exposures, roommates and loved ones coming down sick, and illness among staff members as well. Through aggressive quarantine and isolation protocols, time off for staff members (both voluntary and not), we were able to operate, confident that we were able to keep our staff and clients as safe as possible.
Under-mask Piercing Services
Now that things have calmed a bit, and the Omicron surge around the Holidays has subsided in Baltimore City. We will once again be offering under-mask services at our Baltimore location starting on Friday, February 4. This means appointments can now be booked for nostril and septum piercings, in addition to tongue, lip, and other oral piercings—in Baltimore only, for now. We hope to be starting under-mask services in Philadelphia soon, when the spike drops just a little more. Keep an eye on our social media for further announcements.
Update: As of February 15, 2022, we are now offering all under-mask services in Philadelphia as well.
Clients who are coming in for under-the-mask services will be subject to the same protocol as all our other clients: masks must be worn at all times in our studios common areas, and may only be pulled down when instructed by the piercer, in the piercing rooms. Any jewelry sizing or troubleshooting where a mask must be pulled down will take place in the piercing rooms.
Like everyone else, we are definitely experiencing the COVID fatigue as we scour sources for updates on the changing situation with the state of the pandemic. As things change, we will continue to post updates to our services and policies through our site and social media, Facebook and Instagram in particular. For everyone else who still does most of their shopping from home, we are continuing to offer free shipping on domestic orders over $50 from our web store.
As year three of this culture-shaping pandemic gets going, we encourage everyone to be safe, as we all try to do the same. At the very least, 2022 can’t be as bad as 2021—at least we hope it isn’t.