The Arizona Department of Health Services and Governor Doug Ducey announced on Monday that registration at Arizona’s state-operated COVID-19 vaccination sites in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties will be open to all Arizonans 16 and older beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 24.
This is great news for many who have been waiting to have access to the vaccine, especially business owners who anticipate their sales levels will rise as consumers feel safer to go out. And as COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen in several states, particularly in Arizona, can small businesses continue to keep their customers safe where occupancy limits are back to normal?
The Small Business Administration announced that the agency will focus on COVID-19 safety mitigation and financial resources for the small-business community. Isabella Casillas Guzman, the new head of the Small Business Administration, says she expects to make changes at the agency that she says will enable it to further help small companies devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the early stages of the pandemic, a patchwork of reactions to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines has made it difficult to gauge what small-business owners can do to make all their customers feel safe. Now, with additional guidance from the SBA and CDC, it should become easier to implement some simple and clear updates that will become standard business practices for years to come.
Here are five easy COVID-19 safety practices you can implement as recommended by the CDC:
- Continue practicing social distancing. As some establishments get busier, social distancing will become a little more difficult to manage. Try rearranging a permanent furniture layout to your business floorplan that can ensure 6-foot distance between people. Other ways to practice social distancing are to move electronic payment readers away from the cashier and place visual markers in your waiting lines.
- Invest in supplies like barrier/partitional controls and signs/visual cues. Your business may look a little different from before and visual markers do make your workers and customers feel safe. Plexiglass partitions are seemingly everywhere these days: grocery stores, dry cleaners, restaurant pickup windows, discount stores and pharmacies. They are recommended by the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among others.
- Continue to require facemasks and provide hand sanitizer. Not many business owners can afford alienating returning customers. Yet, executives and smaller operators alike also have to consider federal mandates and must provide a safe working environment for employees. The reality is that masks work and they do keep your visitors safe, even if they got the vaccine.
- Practice cleaning and disinfecting routines around your business. A cleaning and disinfecting plan can help ensure your workplace is safe. Consider developing a plan for all your workers to follow. The CDC recommends determining what needs to be cleaned and what needs to be disinfected first. To make it easy, remember surfaces that have not been touched in more than seven days will only need to be cleaned and surfaces that are touched regularly need to be disinfected daily. Make sure to provide proper personal protective equipment while using chemicals.
- Continue offering online orders and curbside pickup. The economy shifted quickly to online purchasing and many businesses managed to maintain their revenue streams with online orders and curbside pickup. Continue facilitating your services or products in this way as it is the most efficient way to generate revenue while protecting your customers from COVID-19.
The pandemic required all of us to make some adjustments to how we live and work. Making sure your workers, visitors and customers are safe was already a minimum expectation to successfully grow your business. Now, consider these new business practices as an update to the “No Shoes. No Shirt. No Mask. No Service.” rule and welcome back to your business your returning customers.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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