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This is crazy.

I don't think anyone, other than the writers for sci-fi movies, could have predicted what is happening around the world and right here in our own back yard.

But this is real.

Where did it come from? Who can we blame? Where is the cure? When will it stop?

We can speculate all we want but at this point, it really is just speculation and you KNOW everyone is looking for answers.

The big question right now is "How can our business's and livelihood survive this?"

Here's what we do know.

  1. It is not airborne. Thank goodness for that. This means it cannot survive outside of a human host. Yes, it will survive within moisture droplets expelled from a host that can be transferred to a new host, or settle on surfaces It's survival is short, depending on the size of the droplets and on the surface; two hours for hard, smooth surfaces and up to two days for soft surfaces. It appears that once the moisture has evaporated, there's nothing left for the virus to survive in.
  2. 3 to 5 day Incubation Period. What this means is that during this period, the virus is growing and multiplying to a point where it begins to affect your body. Either your immune system can immediately destroy it and you feel little to no symptoms or your immune system requires stronger countermeasures. In this case you feel sick, you start coughing (dry) and your temperature rises. From here, it will take some time for your immune system to recognize the pathogen and create antibodies to destroy it. For most of us, only a few days. For those with a weak immune system, that's where the complications set in.
  3. It goes for the lungs. It's the perfect environment to grow and replicate with an abundant of moisture, warmth and oxygen and, as a result, directly reduces your respiratory system's efficiency.
  4. Infected or Carrier? We really don't know who is a carrier and who is within the incubation period. What we do know is that those who are sick can obviously transmit the disease but during the first week of getting the virus, it can also be transmitted.
  5. Getting Tested. One would think that everyone should be getting tested for the Covid 19 virus. But here's the problem. Only if you show symptoms, could the test show a positive. During the incubation period, it doesn't show up. Plus, since the virus secures itself to the walls of the respiratory system, it is not expelled easily, like normal breathing. They must reach into the air passages like the sinus cavity or throat to acquire a sample.

So, with that, we can take countermeasures against this enemy.

But, do you want to? Should you take the chance? Is it worth it to stay in business or go to work?

Well, that's totally up to you.

Here's something to think about before you decide.

You're in this business because you can repair vehicles. You keep your community moving and you know how important and necessary your job is. This is why automotive repair has been deemed an essential service. (Now they think we're important? We always have been.)

Now, don't think for a moment that this means you cannot close your business or stop working temporarily. Being an essential service just means the Government won't shut you down if the order comes. It is your option.

Some businesses are experiencing a significant down turn of business because of less vehicles on the road and others are trying to keep up with customers taking the advantage of being off work.

Some of you may not have much choice. If just one person, within your small business has developed the symptoms, there is a very high expectation that it may have been transmitted to others. Then too, the symptoms  may not be from the virus, giving the level of anticipation that's prevalent. So, don't immediately jump to conclusions. Contact the nurse help line at Health BC. Dial 8-1-1  for advice and further instructions. Also, here is a chart I found to help identify some of the symptoms compared to the regular cold and flu. https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/ppih/if-ppih-covid-19-flu-cold.pdf

It may take a few days to know if others, in your business, get the symptoms. If it shows, you have little choice but to close the shop temporarily until everyone's healthy again.

If you do choose to stick around and help out, there are measures you can take to protect yourself, your people and your customers. Yes, you know most of this, but it bears repeating;

  1.  Wear Gloves. It may not be possible to disinfect every vehicle coming to your shop, especially if you're busy. Even the keys can be a transfer spot.
    1. Note; use disposable gloves. Long lasting mechanics gloves can be a transfer medium.
  2. Wash Your Hands Frequently. In a shop environment, we do this anyway. But, we're also handling parts and paperwork from outside. So, you don't know.
    1. If you can't, use an alcohol based hand rub
    2. Supply an alcohol based hand rub station for your customers
  3.  Avoid Touching your Face. This is a tough one. Unconsciously, we touch our face, nose and mouth frequently. What we don't want to do is transfer the virus directly to our respiratory system.
  4. Keep Your Distance. (6 feet or 2 meters) This is tough in a close shop environment and, in many cases, unavoidable.
    1. Wear a mask if you are working in close proximity for a sustained period.
    2. If you are shuttling customers, make wearing gloves and a face mask a priority for your driver.
    3. Limit customers in the customer service area
    4. Eliminate customers in the shop. If a customer is needed in the shop area, escort them and have them wear gloves and a face mask. (Discard after use.)
  5. Install a clear plastic barrier at the service counter. This is a bottleneck where all customers and your counter people cannot avoid close contact.
  6. Disinfect Community Surfaces. Customer entrance doors and handles, service counters; these are critical, potential transfer spots that must be cleaned regularly.
  7. Post Signage. It is important to let your customers and your staff know and understand what steps your shop is taking to protect them during this time.  Yes, most businesses have received notices and signage from the BC Government and Health Ministry to be clearly posted regarding the Covid 19 virus, but it is also important to let your customers know what further steps your business is taking to help protect them and your staff. 

These are simple steps we can adopt as an 'adjustment' to how we do business within our communities. We have a responsibility to keep our communities moving but we also want to do it in a safe, casual and friendly manor as we always have. What we don't want to do is be a community transfer area for the virus.

We can do this. We can adapt. We always have.

Now for the financial side

No matter how you look at it, we have all been hit financially during this crisis. Even though we have not been ordered to close our doors, many shops have seen a serious downturn in business and income forcing layoffs and reduced staffing hours. Some shops may have had to close directly because of illness.

As you have seen over the news, our Federal and Provincial governments recognize this and are continuously creating programs for financial assistance to help us get through this so we can keep our businesses alive and staff employed. For employees who are out of work temporarily, there is an extension to the EI system that takes effect immediately. Plus, financial institutions and service suppliers such as hydro and mortgage companies are actively looking at ways to ease the financial burden. It is, no doubt, in their best interest to do so.

What are these programs and how do we access them?

We are in the Automotive Service Industry and we are an essential service. That means we have the Automotive Retailers Association working hard on our behalf to bring us answers and clarification. They are working for all of us and they continuously need your support. So, if your business is not a member of the ARA, I suggest you look closer at signing up.  

Here is the ARA News Updates page that contains the latest Covid 19 news and many links to answer our questions.

https://www.ara.bc.ca/aramediacentrenews/covid-19-updates/

Please check back often for updates.

We are all in this together.  

 

 

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