Plexiglass and patience: Victoria businesses prepare to reopen

Plexiglass and patience: Victoria businesses prepare to reopen
WatchFollowing Wednesday's announcement that many businesses can reopen mid-May, many are now planning and preparing to open their doors. April Lawrence reports.

Philippe and Natalie Ferreira were scrubbing every square inch of their Victoria hair salon Thursday as they prepared to fill the chairs for the first time in nearly two months.

“Everyone is really excited about coming back to work,” said Philippe, co-owner of The Natural hair salon.

“The phone is ringing off the hook,” said Natalie.

The couple had a reopening plan in place even before Wednesday’s announcement that some businesses could reopen in the middle of May. The couple’s plan includes things like reducing the number of stations from eight to four, plexiglass at the reception desk, enhanced disinfecting and perhaps the biggest adjustment of them all: silence.

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“A big thing for me that I’m going to have to tell our staff is calm down on the talking, especially when doing shampoos, no talking at all when doing shampoos, we’re going to be wearing masks,” said Philippe.

At the Strathcona Hotel in Victoria, owners have taken advantage of the downtime to do some major renovations including their main kitchen, so the plan is to get the rooftop patio open first.

“So we’ll get the rooftop open and that’ll probably work best for social distancing and then we’ll follow up with the inside as quickly as we can once the kitchen is all put back together,” said owner Grant Olson.

“Get a little beach volleyball and get living again, it’ll be fun.”

But Olson admits things will look a lot different than they have in the past.

“We’re looking at various options of plexi and tempered glass and masks and all sorts of things so that’s certainly changing the environment but it’s all about being safe for our patrons and our staff,” he said.

And while businesses will be required to follow a check-list of industry-specific guidelines set out by Worksafe BC, the number one issue for everyone will be maintaining distance. And that likely means allowing fewer customers in at one time.

“I don’t know that there’s any profit in it except to just keep some people working so it will be interesting to see how that all works out,” said Olson.

And with safety requirements, training, and inspections to take place, the doors on some businesses may stay closed a little longer than they have to.

“Just because there’s an announcement doesn’t mean everywhere is 100 per cent ready to open safely so we’re looking at all the protocols we need to do to follow that,” said Victory Barbers owner Matty Conrad.

“I think the slight easing of restrictions could lead to an avalanche of people pouring in so we’re really looking at how we can control the amount of people in the shop, how we can control the services so that we can keep everybody relatively safe and distant from each other,” he said.

With little to no tourism, many businesses are hoping locals will come out and support them once their doors are officially open.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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