For about one year now, Orléans businesses have been following COVID-19 regulations, donning masks, installing plexiglass, wearing shields, and more.
It’s not always easy to do this but is now considered business as usual – and absolutely essential.
For example, PPE shortages started shortly after the lockdown in April 2020. “We had some tense times, finding hand sanitizers and wipes,” recalls Leslie Burtch, co-owner of Quilty Pleasures. Now, the quilting business has a commercial supplier, making their PPE procurement seamless. Keeping up with changing regulations can be a challenge. Businesses in Orléans must navigate the government and Ottawa Public Health updates, along with financial and operational challenges of COVID-19 while rapidly addressing the needs of their employees, customers and suppliers.
“It’s been very important to adapt,” Leslie says — from first quarantining their product boxes outside, to now protecting against airborne transmission. Makers through-and-through, Quilty Pleasures embroider staff aprons with a reminder to maintain “sew-cial distancing”. Leslie and her team work hard to show that we’re in it together, lifting spirits while keeping our community safe.
Other businesses, such as St. Martha’s Brasserie, have installed plexiglass to add to their already stringent adherence to regulations.
One of the creative solutions some businesses have implemented is a booking system that allows them to see customers at an appointed time to ensure their safety. Beachcomber Hot Tubs is using this system.
Many other businesses in the service industry have pivoted to phone and video calls to serve their clients. That includes the many health, legal, and finance businesses in the BIA district.
Sure Print continues to be a supplier of choice for printing and signage service – and it is also becoming a premiere partner in helping businesses with reopening tools such as floor decals, wall/door decals, guideline posters/signs, disposable menus, and more.
Sure Print owner Monica Alongi, states, “Our front counter is equipped with safety shields and plenty of hand sanitizer bottles to help keep our staff and customers safe.” They are also providing curbside service to those who don’t feel comfortable going inside.
All businesses have included the mandated city signage, and some have added additional signage and floor decals such as arrows, where needed, to keep the flow of traffic COVID-safe and, of course, all are providing hand disinfectant at their entrances. Though they’re all hoping to go back to “normal” as soon as possible, all businesses are committed to continuing to provide the safest experience possible.
Despite the many challenges, COVID-19 has brought out creativity and innovation that may have an impact on businesses in a positive way for years to come. In this time of dramatic change, businesses have an opportunity to reset, reimagine and renew, emerging even stronger than before.
The Heart of Orléans small businesses can connect with new customer habits. People are living, buying and thinking differently. Habits formed now will last well beyond COVID-19, changing what is valued, how and where we shop, and how we live and work.