To start with it all seemed so far away, we were hearing reports of a coronavirus with flu-like symptoms in Wuhan, China back in January.
Then this new virus started to spread quickly across the globe with Italy being hit hard, it was beginning to seem too close to home.
Once the disease hit our shores and started to spread within the UK, it was time to take steps to protect both our customers and ourselves.
We began by holding staff meetings to ensure that everyone was aware of the risks and taking this situation seriously.
We made sure that although we had always used steering wheel wrap, seat covers and floor mats, we were now covering the gear stick and handbrake, and further wearing gloves whenever any of our staff are inside a customer’s car as well as regular, thorough hand washing.
At the same time in reception we have adopted a one-in one-out policy, we are asking customers to drop their keys into a box where they will be disinfected, we are also cleaning the keys before they are handed back on collection.
We regularly clean the reception area, the desk, door handles and card machine at each use.
Door notices outline what we are doing and instructing customers on the change of policy, while asking anyone who shows any sign of illness to stay at home.
The customers coming in seem to appreciate what we are trying to do and the fact that we are staying open by taking as many precautions as we can, most importantly trying to protect them and ourselves.
We are also attempting to collect vehicles where possible from our more vulnerable customers who are in self-isolation.
The Prime Minister’s announcement that the country is now on lockdown brought even more restrictions into place and even more difficult decisions to be made.
We had taken the difficult team decision to carry on working in-line with the government recommendation that garages can stay open.
We hoped we could be here for our community and key workers within it so they can continue to use their vehicles, to get to work where essential, get their shopping and attend hospital appointments.
For a time, we were able to and we brought in more restrictions to protect our customers and staff.
We stopped issuing our courtesy car, prioritised key workers and closed our waiting area.
But, this morning (27 March) we decided the most responsible course of action to keep everyone safe is to close up temporarily and wait for all this to blow over.
I’ve been in touch with our county council and we will be receiving some support so fingers crossed we’ll be able to make up the difference when we re-open.
Very strange times with lots of difficult decisions to be made, do we close our doors and risk never opening them again, or do we carry on working and risk bringing something home to our families.
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