I want to say that at the time of this blog posting the following protocol is being used at my salon. This is subject to change with very short notice based on the local ordinance for sheltering in place being changed. I am NOT telling you to open, and I am not condemning you if you decide to open. I AM TELLING YOU that if your area has a shelter in place order in effect you need to clarify with your local, county or state governmental agency that issued the order to verify whether or not grooming is considered essential or allowed under exceptions.
The USA CDC requirements for SOCIAL DISTANCING require you stay 6 feet away from another person. That is literally YOUR ARMS OUTSTRETCHED and THEIR ARMS outstretched (roughly). If you are within that range you are not practicing safe social distancing practices.
Years ago, an employee of mine used to wish wistfully for a way to do drop offs and pick ups without actually having to come face to face with the owners of the dogs. "You know, a revolving door that only the dogs would fit in would work!" She exclaimed one day. Another day she said "Too bad you can't put them in a tub like they do at the bank". I used to laugh at her all the time because she was so adamant that there HAD TO BE A WAY!
WELL! Leave it to a worldwide pandemic to figure out ways to make this happen.
Last week we instituted "one client at a time" drop off and pick up and were locking the doors in between clients to limit everyone's exposure to the Covid19 virus. Then a shelter in place order was issued Friday afternoon. It was not available to see what the order actually said until after we had closed, so we had to close Saturday pending the review.
Our local order allows us to remain open (WHEW!) provided was can "meet or exceed the CDC requirements for social distancing". WELL POO! There is literally no way to do curbside pickup or meet people in the car, or even do what we had been doing which is to swap out their leashes from ours or take them from the owner in the lobby and still maintain 6 feet of space. I worried all day Saturday while I did more deep cleaning (and napping) at my house with nothing coming to mind.
I went to bed and slept very fitfully. My plan had been to try to prepay next month's rent, electric bill and phone bill before we closed. I mean, we know it is coming. I really don;t think I got 3 hours of sleep (prednisone at the dose I am taking it prevent sleep anyway most of the time) but when I woke up an hour later than my normal (6:30am) I sat up and said out loud (waking up my husband) I KNOW WHAT TO DO!
I am fortunate enough to have a back yard area for boarding and grooming dogs to go outside easily and safely to potty, so we set up a pop up shade tent with a cage bank of 2 kennels inside the fence. We cut the grass and adjusted the gate so that it will open easier and placed a camera outside to be able to see the dogs and anyone coming inside the fence. I printed a lot of signs and put them in document sleeves I had bought for recipe cards.
I set out to make every client aware of the process and verify their appointments for the day ahead.
The way we are working it is as follows. The clients are to pull forward to to the "drop off zone" and call us (the phone number is on the sign hanging on the gate) and then come into the fenced area and place their dog(s) inside one of the kennels; hopefully they have walked them first. After they are back in their car I go outside and take the dog from the holding kennel and bring them inside, then immediately go back out, swap out towels and sanitize the gate and kennel handles. I placed paper towels and hand sanitizer as well as Lysol spray and a cleaner next to the kennel bank for people to use if they like. I will sometimes meet people at the door and talk to them once they are on the other side of the gate. We are doing everyone as a call when ready, so it is easy. I call them to pick up, they call me when they get here and I repeat the process. We are taking credit cards over the phone for payment and any cash or checks that have to be used by clients are taken (wearing gloves) straight inside and placed into the UV/Ozone disinfectant box for 20 minutes.
I am wearing a mask at all times these days so I am masked and gloved when I go outside to retrieve pets. I change my smock or wear a waterproof apron over my smock (that is easy to spray with cleaner and disinfect) to protect myself. I bought a few masks and a LOT of filters in January before I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis but knew it was a possibility. I have a years worth of filters for my dust masks onhand and I am super happy I have them. If I was having to ear an N95 respirator that our local health officials needed I would not be doing it. It was one of those things that I did going on a hunch. MAN I am glad I listened to my hunch!
As you can see in the last photo above, the Wyze camera is catching the video well. I have an ALEXA SHOW sitting next to my station and the Skill for the Wyze camera is on there. I can access it with my voice., It gives me a HUGE sense of calm knowing I can see the pets even if they are out there for no more than one minute.
My clients are almost all being great about this process ,which is good because even after the risk is lessened in our area and the SIPO is repealed, this may be the way we do things for the foreseeable future. As of today, our hospital is treating over 125 actively positive cases of COVID19, and over 1025 people are waiting for results of testing in our ONE COUNTY ALONE. As an immunicompromised person I am taking no changes. I have bills to pay. I want to take care of my clients for as long as I can. I do not want to jail for murdering my husband. I want to be alive when this is done. I am being overly cautious but I do not care. It is for everyone's safety we are doing what we are doing. The one or two clients that are giving me a hard time can go somewhere else.