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City Council makes changes to Duluth massage facility ordinance

DULUTH, MN– Proposed tighter restrictions on Duluth massage establishments got a bit looser Monday night.

The City Council approved an amendment to an ordinance that would place stricter rules on licensed massage businesses following some uproar from smaller facility owners.

The proposal comes after two people were arrested and charged last month in connection with alleged sex trafficking at several Twin Ports massage parlors.

Before the ordinance was even brought up in council chambers Monday, citizens and business owners wrote into councilors expressing their frustration with some of the rules listed in the proposal.

According to the language of the original ordinance, massage facilities’ hours of operation would be limited to between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. They would also be required to have only one client entrance and the main entrance would have to be kept unlocked during business hours.

Those rules didn’t sit well with some small business owners who say they don’t have the revenue to keep the front desk staffed at all hours of the day and a lot the therapist work alone during some hours. They also say some licensed therapist would like to be able to practice during the earlier morning or late evening hours.

Owner of Resonance Wellness Journeys in Duluth, Anne Katoch says, “those of us who practice independently would like to be able to, once we greet our client, lock our door for the security of our business, our business information, and actually the security of ourselves and our clients.”

Ruth Backlund, Owner of Energy Works Myofascial Release in Duluth and an RN and Expert Level Myofascial Release Therapist says the new rules have the potential to trickle into other business practices. “You impose that kind of restriction when it wasn’t really called for, then that just opens the door for even tighter restrictions for everybody else to run their business,” says Backlund.

Councilor Gary Anderson proposed an amendment that would extend business hours for massage facilities to 6 a.m. through 11 p.m.,  allow businesses to lock their main entrance if they please, and also have more than one client entrance.

The council met Duluth Police Chief, Mike Tusken during their agenda meeting for guidance and support on the rules within the new ordinance.

The council could vote proposal at the next council meeting on May 9.

In related news, the council voted Monday night to approve regulating motorized foot-scooters and dock-less bikes within the city.

That new law would mean people can’t drive those devices on sidewalks in business areas.. and would have to follow regular traffic flow and bike lanes.

No word yet on when those devices could appear in Duluth.

DULUTH, MN — Duluth City Councilors will discuss a couple of major topics during Monday night’s meeting.

First, councilors are expected to hear feedback on their proposal for tighter restrictions on Duluth’s massage facilities.

The idea comes after two people were charged in connection to alleged sex trafficking at several Twin Ports area massage parlors last month.

Councilors could vote on that as early as next month.

In addition, the Council is expected to vote on regulating motorized foot-scooters and dock-less bikes within the city.

The new law would mean people can’t drive those devices on sidewalks in business areas and would have to follow regular traffic flow and bike lanes.

There could also be a vote to include the Proctor Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol in the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

We’ll have all the latest from the council meeting tonight on the KBJR 6 News at 10 p.m.

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