Reflexologists in Clark County will soon be more closely regulated, with restrictions on the hours of operation and training requirements, county commissioners decided Tuesday.
The regulations, which limit the hours of operation and require training and background checks in unincorporated areas of the county, will go into effect on May 31.
They are part of a move to give the industry the same level of scrutiny as massage parlors.
Reflexology businesses in some cases have garnered complaints that include upselling clients, or pushing clients for higher fees after starting, and criminal activities, including prostitution and identity theft.
Commissioners voted unanimously for the regulations.
Several reflexologists at the meeting spoke against the proposal, saying that the requirement to close up at midnight would hurt the industry in a 24-hour city.
The new requirements restrict hours of operation to 8 a.m. to midnight, though reflexology businesses can apply for a special permit to be open later.
Reflexologists provide foot, hand and ear rubs based on the concept that they stimulate reflexes that benefit the body as a whole, providing overall benefits such as boosted circulation and an improved immune system.
The practice goes back several thousand years, with roots in Asia.
New reflexologists applying for a license must complete a course of study with at least 110 hours of instruction and 90 hours of practicum — hands-on training — or receive a certification from an independent national reflexology testing entity.
Reflexologists will have to complete at least six hours of continuing education annually. The ordinance is flexible on the school and where reflexologists can prepare for their careers, with no requirement to attend a specific, identified institution.
Reflexologists who already have business licenses in the county won’t have to get background checks or complete the full training requirement, but they will still have to complete six hours of continuing education each year.
New reflexologists will need a background check, though currently licensed reflexologists will not.
Dina Han, owner of Happy Feet, a reflexology business near The Orleans, told commissioners she had concerns about how the reduction in hours would impact her business. She has 10 reflexologists working for her.
She said the changes are “not fair to the general public.”
There are more than 1,000 reflexologists in the county, under the county’s estimates.
Han said the Metropolitan Police Department has visited her business on several occasions and never found any problems with it.
Jacqueline Holloway, director of the county’s Business License Department, said the measure brings credibility to the industry without hurting existing, legitimate businesses.
Past reported issues include reflexologists negotiating large fees for services that may be illegal. There also is growing concern about human trafficking, county officials said
Police Sgt. Christine Payson said the department supports the ordinance. Police officials said issues at reflexology businesses include prostitution and fraud, with customers’ cards swiped for large amounts in the thousands.
Holloway noted that in some cases, county inspectors checking out reflexology businesses have discovered tables for massage therapy, which they aren’t licensed to do.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said that the county took steps to work with the industry and hear its concerns.
She noted that the county is actually more flexible than neighboring jurisdictions in the hours and also allows businesses to apply for a special permit to be open later.
In the city of Las Vegas, reflexology businesses must close at 10 p.m., two hours earlier than the county’s new requirement.
The city took similar steps in 2011 to tighten regulations for reflexologists.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.