Ordinance To Restrict Duluth Massage Businesses Gets First Read

Some are in favor of some new city regulations, but say current proposal hurts their legitimate businesses.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Duluth City Council had its first read of an ordinance that would tighten up restrictions for massage businesses.

Amendments to the ordinance include broadening hours of operations from 6 am to 11 pm, allowing clients to enter or exit through more than one entrance, and allowing doors to be locked during business hours.

Previously, the ordinance stated that businesses couldn’t be open past 10 pm and before 7 am, clients can only exit through one door, and doors must stay unlocked during business hours.

Councilor Gary Anderson proposed the changes after contacting Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken and hearing the concerns of many massage professionals.

Some said many of their clients request the front door be locked for security reasons, because they do not have a receptionist and the therapist is often working alone.

Furthermore, some also said limiting their hours of operation dictates whether or not their clients receive treatment, and therefore, their income.

City Councilor Joel Sipress said he’s hoping tighter license requirements will keep incidents like last month’s from happening again, without hurting honest massage therapists.

“We’re gonna be looking at the ordinance, we’re gonna be reviewing it,” Sipress said. “And I’m sure we’re gonna be tweaking it to make sure that we can provide law enforcement with the tools that they need while not creating an undue burden for legitimate massage therapists”

This comes after last month’s arrests of 59-year-old Matthew Shykes and 49-year-old Shuangyan Yang.

The Twin Ports couple was accused of operating a sex trafficking ring at Better Massage in Duluth and Soothing Massage in Superior.

According to court documents, at least one victim claimed she was being forced to do sexual acts with clients.

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