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Backpackers who should be in self-isolation head out to get TATTOOS

"Mira Briggs" (2020-04-14)


Cal Lighting Track head 1-Light Dimmable black Roundback Linear Track Lighting Head at Lowes.comForeign backpackers have been ignoring strict coronavirus self-isolation orders, stepping off their international flights and rushing out to get tattoos. 

Local customers also flocked to tattoo studios on the last night they could get themselves inked in Australia but few wanted a permanent reminder of COVID-19.

All tattoo parlours were forced to cease trading at midnight on Thursday under the same health regulations that shut down businesses including tanning, waxing and nail salons.

Rather than being inundated with new patrons, some studios reported a surge in regular clients, many of whom wanted to complete half-finished jobs.

Most last-minute customers were not asking for Corona bottles or other COVID-19 mementos but Instagram is already filled with tattoos featuring those themes. 






Quarantine has been one theme of COVID-19 tattoos. Despite warnings to international visitors that they must self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Australia, backpackers have been reported going straight from the airport to get a tattoo 







This studio had tourists wanting tattoos when they should be in quarantine. 'We had at least five separate cases of backpackers who had just gotten off international flights wanting to get tattooed, ge outdoor christmas lights obviously ignoring self isolation guidelines,' artist Wade Johnston said







Toilet paper rolls appear regularly in coronavirus tattoos. Local tattooist said most of their customers on the last legal day of trading did not want a reminder of the deadly virus 


Owners had no idea when they would be able to reopen, with workers at one studio considering whether they should donate its medical supplies to a hospital.

Vic Market Tattoo Shop in Melbourne's CBD, which has seven artists including Wade Johnston, closed on Monday ahead of the ban.

'The main issue that we all ran into was new tourists wanting to get tattooed,' Mr Johnston said. 






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'We had at least five separate cases of backpackers who had just gotten off international flights wanting to get tattooed, obviously ignoring self-isolation guidelines.'

All foreign nationals who arrived in Australia before 9pm last Friday have been ordered to self-isolate for 14 days. After that time, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate families have been allowed to enter the country. 

Like other studio operators Mr Johnston said the Australian tattoo industry was already highly regulated and followed safe cross-contamination practices.  

'So I'd say the industry, as a whole, takes this pretty seriously.'






Alex Parrish predicted tattoo artists would turn their hand to other things. 'No tattoos equals no money,' he said. 'You will find a lot of artists selling original artwork, prints, merchandise and commissioning artwork for people just to get by now.' Westside's Shaun Allen is pictured

















Coronavirus tattoos have been appearing since the outbreak of the disease became global news. Corona beer bottles have been a popular COVID-19


Jamie Kirchen, who owns Hunter and Fox Tattoo at Beaconsfield in Sydney's inner southern suburbs, said he faced Wednesday night with a 'heavy heart'. 

'I didn't get home to my family until 1.30am as I live on the south coast and chose to tattoo until I could,' Mr Kirchen said. 

'All our artists managed to stay until cut-off time last night, fitting in our loyal customers before we had to close the doors.'

Mr Kirchen, who had been tattooing for 11 years, was grateful to his staff for 'sticking tight and smashing out two days worth of work in one.'

'This is our livelihood. I have kids to feed and a mortgage to pay, without work this will be tricky so it was a bittersweet night. 

'It was great to see our clients flocking in to get their appointments met before we shut down but a sickening feeling for the unknown. 

'Our adrenaline was pumping the whole time, posting on social media to get clients in before 12am - emails, phone calls - but at the same time trying to limit crowds by adhering to one person per every four square metres.'






This heavilly tattoed man has a simple coronavirus twist on the usual 'love' and 'hate'







Westside Tattoo in Brisbane employees 11 artists and has operated for 22 years. Manager Alex Parrish said the studio closed at 6pm on Wednesday and he became unemployed at midnight

















Surviving the deadly COVID-19 threat crops up in coronavirus tattoos (left). Another tattoo shows the virus as the sun behind a palm tree above the word 'coronafornia' (right)


Mr Kirchen said he still had rent to pay on his working premises and was facing huge overheads of outstanding bills once he could reopen his doors.

'We are trying to remain positive through this hardship but of course we sit here in fear that we may not come back from this, almost like we may have to start from scratch,' he said. 

'I poured everything into this business both financially and emotionally when I took over last year, with renovations and more. 

'I thank my team for killing it last night.'

Mr Kirchen said none of his artists was asked to ink any COVID-19 tattoos during their last shift on Wednesday.

'Our main concern was to fit our clients in that were due to get tattooed within the next few weeks,' he said.

'We did what we could and we appreciate our customers who made the travel in. We are all looking forward to getting back to what we love to do.

'It's a sad yet frustrating time let's hope we all get through this and may we come out on top.'








Sam Reeve, manger of Brisbane's Ink Embassy, said no one had asked for a COVID-19 tattoo on Wednesday night. 'The general consensus is this is not one of those things that people are going to want to remember in that way,' he said

















Many COVID-19 tattoos are light-hearted but some use darker imagery (left). Pictured right are two masked lovers kissing in a coronavirus tattoo 


Sam Reeve is the manager of Ink Embassy at Bulimba in Brisbane's north-east. The studio employees seven tattoo artists and opened in its current premises three years ago.

'It's been a bit of an emotional couple of days,' Mr Reeve said.

'We've seen this coming. It didn't shock us. We were all of us glued to Scott Morrison's address the other night. 

'The closure itself we all understood. There's no animosity or anything. We all get the importance of it.'

Mr Reeve said his artists worked up to midnight on Thursday inking mostly regular customers.  

'It was a huge day. People were coming in to get tattoos completed and bringing forward appointments to get work done.'  

'It was a really good atmosphere. People were supporting an industry that really needs it. 






Sam Reeve is the manager of Ink Embassy at Bulimba in Brisbane's north-east. 'It's been a bit of an emotional couple of days,' Mr Reeve said. 'We've seen this coming. It didn't shock us' 







Many of the coronavirus tattoos seen around the world play on a Corona beer theme 


Mr Reeve said no one had asked for a COVID-19 tattoo. 'The general consensus is this is not one of those things that people are going to want to remember in that way,' he said. 

'People are scared and they would sooner have a tattoo that reminds them of a nice experience than this awful thing we're going through now.'

The Inker at Alderley in Brisbane's north was quiet but the studio was contacted by several customers wanting to put down deposits for future work. 

Kian 'Horisumi' Forreal, who has been tattooing for 30 years, employs 12 artists at Authentink Tattoo Studio in Sydney's Surry Hills which he has run for seven years. 

On Saturday he finished a 400-hour traditional Japanese full-body tattoo he had been working on for eight years and on Tuesday he closed his doors.

'I knew this was coming,' Mr Forreal said. 'I've been slowly preparing for it but it's still quite a shock to have to shut down.'

Mr Forreal said he began providing wear face masks for artists and customers as well as insisting they use hand sanitiser several weeks ago, on top of the already stringent tattooing health rules.






Australia has 2,675 cases of coronavirus with 12 deaths. The most cases have been recorded in New South Wales, followed by Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia







Westside Tatoo manager Alex Parrish said the studio was generally booked at least one month ahead for all 11 artists. 'Since we do not have a date in which we can open yet we have floated the idea of donating all our medical supplies to GPs or hospitals that may need it,' he said


'Even with all that most of my artists we're pretty sketchy about coming to work,' he said.

'It's a very public-facing business. You've got people on top of you breathing into your face.' 

Westside Tattoo in Brisbane employees 11 artists and has operated for 22 years.

Manager Alex Parrish said the studio closed at 6pm on Wednesday and he became unemployed at midnight.