Reopening for business calls for ‘new normal’ protocols

Based on guidance from the state announced Tuesday, May 12, a limited amount of enterprises can get back to business after creating a Safe Reopening Plan.

The reopening plan accessible on the website addresses safety protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The form indicates the types of signs to be posted at individual establishments as well as measures to protect employee health and safety, measures to protect customer safety, and measures to keep people at least 6 feet apart.

Recommended actions include wearing facial coverings and checking the temperatures of employees. Business and other enterprise owners have the flexibility to indicate specific measures tailored to their operations.

Among those allowed to reopen in the state’s current Phase 2 reopening plan are pet groomers, outdoor museums, landscapers, car washes, businesses in malls or strip malls for curbside pickup only, and office-based businesses, although teleworking is still strongly encouraged.

Laura Miller is among Ramona business owners who just recently reopened for services at Animal Artistry’s Grooming and Boarding.

Miller said her business at 662 Main St. has canceled boarding of pets and reduced its staff from the usual three-to-four employees to just herself and one other employee who work opposite days. The duo are working seven days a week, but with only one groomer per day.

The limited staff means Animal Artistry can only groom about five dogs per day, down from a former workload of 12 to 15 groomings per day. Their typical services are shave downs to protect against stickers, medicated baths and lots of nail clippings that have been postponed during the closure.

Consequences from the modification include delays in service. Whereas, clients were formerly accustomed to same-week service, now they have to make appointments two to three weeks in advance. Regular clients are given priority, and those who only need service once or twice a year are either put on hold or accepted to fill in for no-shows.

The volume of business is dictated by how much work one staff person can handle at a time. Regular clients, who make up 80 percent of the business transactions, are given preferential treatment when scheduling appointments.

“I’m suspecting this will be the new norm,” said Miller, who has been in business 27 years. “It’s definitely affected the way we do business, but it’s a blessing that we can do business.”

Animal Artistry has modified its operations by offering curbside service to protect its customers and staff. When a customer arrives at the shop, they call the staff, who meet them at the curb. The staff pick up the animal while wearing face coverings and gloves, then return the animal to the owner at the curb when done.

Miller is particularly careful about reducing contacts between staff and customers because she’s in a high-risk category for catching coronavirus due to her asthma and diabetes. The staff regularly wear personal protective equipment, the store is thoroughly cleaned in the mornings and evenings, and the floor mats and dog cages are cleaned with bleach. She said her background in raising Boxers and other breeds as well as working with exotic animals as a former animal control officer has made her hyper-vigilant about sanitation.

Miller said any missed appointments create a tremendous hardship on the business because of the reduced volume.

“We emphasize that clients have to be on time and make appointments,” she said. “People are not used to being held to appointment times. If they want their service, they need to honor their obligations.”

The Ramona Library at 1275 Main St. will also soon be reopening on a limited basis. Effective Tuesday, March 26, the Ramona Library will begin offering door-side service. Times and logistics will be available soon, but the door-side service will allow the pickup of requested items by appointment only.

The items will be waiting for people at a table near the front door, in the lobby or a community room. Library staff will contact those individuals who had reserved items at a branch when the libraries closed in March. All public health orders will apply to these visits, and instructions will be provided by the library staff when they contact people. For more information, call the Ramona branch at 760-788-5270 or visit the website.

Although outdoor museums and open gallery spaces are allowed to reopen in the state’s Phase 2 plan, Ramona’s Guy B. Woodward Museum at 645 Main St. is remaining closed until further notice.

Woodward Museum1.jpg

The Guy B. Woodward Museum remains closed until further notice.

(Sentinel file photo)

Ramona Pioneer Historical Society President Jeff Funk said the museum has been completely closed since March 19 and there’s no plan in place to reopen it.

“We’re taking it one step at a time,” Funk said.

Funk said the donation-based museum is managing its expenses by reducing the operations manager Bob Hailey’s work days from four days per week to one day per week.

Hailey said maintaining social distancing in the small, mostly indoors museum, would be a difficult task. The museum, which is housed in the 1880s Verlaque House, is staged with a dentist office, library, bedroom, kitchen and living room in only about 1,000 square feet of space.

“If we have groups of people coming through I don’t see how we would do that (social distancing) inside a small building,” Hailey said. “This is not an outdoor museum. The majority of what we have to show is all indoors.”

Hailey said the decision on when to reopen is up to the board of directors of the Ramona Pioneer Historical Society.

Funk said the board is waiting on specific instructions on when the museum can open again.

“When I present a proposal to reopen, which is not yet, then the board will discuss a plan of action regarding social distancing and sanitation,” Funk said. “I’m not going to rush it at all.”

Casa Rustica, a home decor, pottery and gift store owned by Andy and Mary Canales, just reopened after being closed one-and-a-half months.

Andy said the store at 316 Main St. is considered an essential business because it is selling plants similar to a nursery and has just added a bill pay center to its services. Casa Rustica’s essential activities include supplying builders, landscapers and home designers with decorative items and plants.

Andy said he and Mary are careful about practicing the safe protocols required by the state and federal governments.

“We’ve been suffering for a while,” Andy said. “We’re very anxious and excited to get up and running.”

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