WINNIPEG -- As businesses in Manitoba begin reopening, tattoo parlours are being forced to keep their doors closed. Now one local tattoo artist is speaking out.

Phil McLellan has started a petition to allow tattoo parlours and body modification studios in Manitoba to open with the rest of the non-essential businesses this month. Currently, under the province's reopening plan, tattoo parlours will not be allowed to open until at least June 1. The province has not set a specific date for when tattoo parlours may reopen.

"We're qualified to deal with cross-contamination issues as it relates to COVID-19 and direct contact with clients," McLellan told CTV News. "We do it every day, for the 33 years that I've been tattooing. We do exactly what they are asking other places to implement now – it's our general practice."

McLellan said tattoo parlours are required to certify with the province on cross-contamination prevention, and have the personal protective equipment available for them to reopen safely.

He said many tattoo artists wear gloves, sleeves and aprons to protect themselves from bodily fluids. He said many artists are opting to wear masks as well, with splash protection face shields available.

He said with non-essential businesses including hair salons and massage therapists being allowed to reopen, he believes tattoo parlours should also be allowed.

"I just find it – I don't even know how to describe it – bizarre that the province would exclude the very people that they mandate be trained in this specific type of prevention activity to not be part of the first phase of reopening," he said.

More than 1,000 people have signed the petition as of Monday evening.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, was asked at a news conference on Tuesday about why tattoo parlours were not included in the first phase of reopening. He said the Manitoba is taking a gradual, phased approach and not everything can be included in the initial round of openings.

“It’s too risky to open up everything at the same time,” he said.

“So there’s going to be businesses that aren’t able to open and so we get a lot of questions and we certainly hear them and certainly understand the restrictions impose a lot on Manitobans, and at the same time we get questions that the opening is too quick, but then also that we didn’t include enough in the opening."

“So it’s a balance and certainly we hear everyone’s point of view on it, but we have to make decisions.”

Roussin noted that Manitoba’s reopening plan is a very robust.

“We have a number of services that are able to open right now, but we just certainly can’t open up everything at once,” he said, noting they are going to review things moving forward.