JEFFERSON — City officials have taken a proactive step in addressing massage and spa establishments before they begin popping up in Jefferson.
During a recent, special called meeting, the Jefferson City Council approved an ordinance providing regulations for massage and spa businesses.
The goal of the ordinance was to minimize illicit activities like prostitution or solicitation that sometimes can occur at such establishments. Gwinnett County officials recently made arrests at a massage parlor near the Mall of Georgia, where an employee solicited an undercover officer. Similar arrests have also recently been made in Bibb and Chatham counties and in other areas in Georgia.
For legitimate business owners, the ordinance is a welcome addition.
“I think it’s too bad that they call those places massage parlors because we know that massages aren’t really what they are doing. It makes it difficult for certified massage therapists like myself,” said Laura Prince, owner of Whisper Massage Therapy in downtown Jefferson.
“Those businesses can give massage a negative connotation, so I think it’s very good for the council to be proactive to keep things like that out of the community. It’s easier to be proactive than to respond to a problem later.”
Jefferson has joined a growing list of governments that have established massage and spa ordinances. Other Jackson County cities like Winder have similar ordinances, as does Hall County.
Among other things, the Jefferson ordinance requires that massage and spa businesses be licensed, sets hours that the establishments can’t be in operation and also sets requires that an owner or supervisor be on site during all business hours.
It also determines that employees must be “fully clothed” during a massage and that they may not “manipulate, fondle or handle the sexual organs or anus of any person.”