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LAKELAND — Businesses that offer massage therapy and spa services are among those suffering amid the suspension of normal life.

Angie Reynolds Hewett, owner of Massage and Spinal Therapy of Winter Haven Inc., said her 30-year-old company was on track for one of its best years before Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that necessitated the interruption of services. Hewett was planning a celebration for customers on March 31, but that will have to be postponed.

“We’ve just been phenomenally blessed, phenomenally busy,” Hewett said. “It was a shock to all of us, but the thing is, there’s absolutely no way to give social distance between a patient and a massage therapist. It’s not humanly possible.”

Hewett said it decided to cease operations even before receiving official notice from the Florida Department of Health.

In addition to various forms of massage therapy, the company offers services such as spinal decompression, microdermabrasion, and herbal body wraps. Hewett said it had 13 employees.

Hewett is keeping its office open with limited hours to sell products and gift certificates. She said her administrative assistant is calling patients to cancel all scheduled appointments for the next few weeks.

“We’re trying to make the most of it,” Hewett said. “We are a very strong group of women who are very committed to the well-being of our patients, and that is one of the reasons we closed before we were even commissioned.”

The same fate befell the medical and aesthetic rejuvenation of Bella Visage in Lakeland. The 5-year-old business, owned by Jeanna and Mark Parker, offers massage therapy and a range of other services, such as neurotoxin injections and body and tattoo removal, which must be performed by a nurse licensed practitioner or physician.

Mark Parker said he and his wife, on the advice of the American Medical Spa Association, decided to close before getting the state order. The company has 11 employees.

“There are so many invasive things we do that could create an opening for a particle that it just wasn’t advisable to stay open in,” he said.

Parker said the company sells facial products and employees oversee “virtual facials,” in which they instruct customers on how to use the supplies.

“We’ll do the same with our massage therapists, which will be interesting — stretching, yoga,” he says. “Again, just a way to keep our staff and customers connected.”

Calls to Oriental Massage and Spa, a thriving business opposite Southgate Shopping Center in Lakeland, yield a recorded message that the business is closed.

Parker said he heard that some massage therapists were still doing sessions in spaces they rented from local hair salons. Hewett said she knew therapists in Winter Haven who were still working.

“I personally know three therapists in town who continually do massages, and that’s a shame,” she said. “From what I understand, if they continuously do massages when the governor has a stop order, they can lose their license.”

Gary White can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7518. Follow on Twitter @garywhite13.

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