Opinion: COVID changes are here to stay

GW columnist Mark Chadwick reflects on recent changes to protect staff and customers

Opinion: COVID changes are here to stay
Image: Bigstock.

Here at Stadium Garage Ltd in Doncaster, like so many other independents, we’ve put lots of new measures into place to safeguard ourselves and customers.

Mark Chadwick of Stadium Garage in Doncaster.

We’ve always kept the workshop clean and tidy, mopping up spillages and clearing away clutter as we work.

We’ve always kept on top of cleanliness in the staff room, waiting room, toilets and our two courtesy cars.

As a business owner, I’ve always had a duty of care to provide a safe and clean environment for staff and customers.

But all of that is no longer enough – times have changed.

We’ve had the COVID discussion with staff and we’ve all agreed to protect each other by keeping up social distancing and sticking to government guidance when we’re not at work.

Related: Face masks to become mandatory for retail in England – here’s the advice for garages

In the workshop we practise social distancing as much as possible, although there are times when one of us needs assistance but we do our best.

We’ve got various notices dotted around the workshop as a reminder keep a two metre distance where possible.

There’s posters in the wash rooms with guidance on how to wash hands properly and we of course have hand sanitiser.

We open the garage at 8.30am but now only accept customers after 9am, giving us time to sanitise everything.

Once a customer does arrive, we operate a minimum contact policy and no longer allow them to wait in reception.

The reception desk remains closed but we’ve fitted a perspex window into the office with access for passing keys and documents over.

It meant we also had to move two computers, the card machine and the associated network cables and install new power sockets.

Related: Action to be taken against businesses not managing COVID-19 risk, HSE warns

We have had an electronic door lock and intercom fitted and customers can drop-off their key in a dedicated key box.

We had always used floor mats, seat covers and steering wheel covers but we now also use sanitising spray inside the vehicle before with fit the covers.

The courtesy cars have been parked up idle for five months now because I cannot guarantee that they are safe for everyone to use.

When collecting a car, hands must be sanitised before keys and any paperwork is exchanged and we advise the customer about the covers inside.

We then sanitise everything between customers.

Related: MOT backlog to peak in October, DVSA data suggests

Nearly all our customers have made positive comments about our safeguards and are pleased that we have taken the COVID-19 threat seriously.

Although, one chap asked why we were bothering with all the effort.

Another suggested it is all a conspiracy and refused to wear a mask or use sanitiser – we didn’t let him in.

Of course, our efforts to protect staff and customers costs time and money.

I’m sure we’re all doing much more than the government guidelines ask of us but at least we can sleep well at night knowing we’re doing our bit – after all, it looks like we’re in this for the long haul.

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