The city of Columbus is introducing a proposed ordinance at its council meeting Tuesday that would require some massage establishments to obtain permits to operate.
Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix says the ordinance comes a few days after two massage parlors were shut down after they were suspected of prostitution and failing to pay sales tax.
“Obviously we don’t want massage operations or any operation that’s occurring in the city where there’s criminal activity going on behind closed doors,” he says.
Massage therapists who are already licensed with the state would be exempt from getting a permit. Those that are not licensed must go through the permit process which includes a background check and a series of inspections.
Mayor Kristen Brown worked with police to draft the ordinance. She says she expects it to receive large support.
“I think the only concerns are going to be making sure we don’t make it unintentionally prohibitive or difficult for legitimate, certified massage therapists to operate,” she says.
President of Alternatives For Health Freda Neal says when illicit businesses are allowed to function it hurts legitimate businesses like her own. She says she hopes the ordinance will change that.
“You would think after years and years of good massage therapists helping people relax, helping them feel better, helping them getting their pain levels lowered, things would be different,” she says. “But there’s always someone out there saying, and what else do you do.”
The city council will not vote on the ordinance tonight but action could be taken at its next meeting later this month.