A new ordinance in Bayport requires all massage therapists and massage therapy businesses to be licensed to operate in the city. Exceptions exist for health care facilities and instructional programs.
Previously city code made no reference to massage therapists on an individual or commercial basis.
Police Chief Laura Eastman said the new ordinance is intended as a tool to combat human trafficking, as well as protect the reputation of legitimate massage therapy businesses in the city. Currently there is one massage therapist operating in Bayport, Eastman said.
“Our current massage therapist is licensed, she’s gone to college, and she’s received her certificate,” Eastman said.
The city’s action is part of a larger effort in the county and state to combat human trafficking. Eastman said the county attorney’s office recommended adopting the ordinance to assist with prosecution and deterrence of human trafficking cases, which have become a problem in Minnesota.
“It’s out there. It’s real. So I want to protect the city,” Eastman said.
Bayport’s ordinance, which was based on a similar ordinance in Woodbury, requires businesses and individual therapists to be licensed annually.
In order to be licensed, individuals must prove they have met certain training requirements or passed specific exams from reputable organizations.
In addition, the code restricts the services provided.
“These regulations include the prohibition on prostitution or criminal sexual activity in connection with a massage, as well as limitations on the massage itself, before it turns into criminal sexual activity,” Eastman wrote in a memo to the council.
The ordinance also spells out that business owners are responsible for activities taking place on the premises, and the business license may be revoked if employees violate the ordinance.
The city unanimously approved the ordinance April 3.
Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]