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Four Steps to Protecting Your Customers during the COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is an invisible threat so we don't know who has it. This creates uncertainty and anxiety in consumers and employees. Despite this, a surprisingly large number of customers want to return to normal activity.
Consumers are most exposed to crowds and lines of people when they visit airlines, hotels, cruises, casinos, movie theaters, sporting events and theme parks. So customer attitudes about hospitality, travel and leisure business can reveal their level of comfort with public exposure during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is supported by growing hotel occupancy rates since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Travelers were more willing to stay in hotels in October and November compared to June and July of 2020. According to the latest data from STR, hotel occupancy was 35% on Thanksgiving Day 2020, which is 38% lower than Thanksgiving Day 2019.
Customers Need Reassurance that it's Safe to Return Your Business
    This suggests that building customer trust is a priority as you re-open your business to the public. This means your business must have visible signs showing what specific methods your business is taking to protect your employees and your customers.

    Signs within your business should help customers understand what you're doing to protect them from COVID-19 and what they should do to follow your guidelines. To help customers, employees should have training on your Covid-19 safety procedures.
    • Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and encourage workers to use it frequently when they cannot wash their hands.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Employers should provide soap, water and paper towels for workers and customers to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds on a frequent basis.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
    • Identify items such as counters, cash registers and credit card terminals that are shared or frequently touched. Target these items for frequent cleaning and disinfection.

    Are Customers Ready to Take Part in the Covid-19 Business Recovery?

    Sports and Leisure Research Group and Engagious conducted a survey that looked at airlines, hotels, cruises, casinos, movie theaters, sporting events and theme parks. What they found in April was that one third of people in their study said they would return to those activities right away without hesitation. The survey data suggests that once the necessary assurances are in place, movie theaters and live sports events face a quicker recovery, while casinos, cruises, and theme parks may take longer to regain customers.

    Another third of those surveyed said they would prefer to wait for a Covid-19 vaccine before resuming those travel and leisure activities. Three-fourths of respondents also said they'd need multiple assurances before they'd be willing to return to hotels, flights, sports arenas and movie theaters. Those surveyed said they would prefer an approved vaccine and assurances from media and public health officials that it would be safe to return. More than 75% of people surveyed need more than one of the following conditions to be met:
    • Assurance from the property or company that it is safe to return
    • Assurance from the U.S. government that it is safe to to return
    • Assurance from a reputed U.S. medical authority that it was safe to return
    • Assurance from multiple media outlets that it was safe to return
    • Approval of a pharmaceutical treatment to mitigate the effects of COVID-19
    • Approval of a COVID-19 vaccine

    Four Steps to Protecting Your Business Customers

      These four steps are based on guidelines from OSHA and from Georgia Institute of Technology. It outlines how employers can implement steps for hand hygiene, social distancing, identification of sick employees, masks to prevent spreading and temperature screening.

      1. Hand hygiene

        • Limit the number of workers and customers that can be safely accommodated after you allow for social distancing.
        • Mark off flooring in six-foot zones in areas where workers and customers will congregate such as waiting areas, restrooms, checkout lines and areas with time clocks.
        • Post signs encouraging workers and customers to maintain at least 6 feet between one another.
        • Post one-way directional signs in hallways or corridors where the width limits social distancing.
        • Space furniture to respect 6 feet of separation.
        • Hold virtual meetings when possible.
        • Do not share phones, desks, computers or other equipment. Equipment should be disinfected before and after each use.
        • Limit elevators and bathrooms to one person at a time, unless social distancing can be maintained.
        • Allow employees to eat meals outside or in separate locations.
        • Avoid all person-to-person contact including handshaking.

        2. Social distancing

            • Provide masks for employees and train them on proper fit and wearing.
            • Your face covering should fit snugly against your face with no gaps.
            • Your face covering should always cover both your nose and mouth completely.
            • Wash hands immediately after removing the face covering.
            • Provide disposable masks for customers who may not have them.
            • Post signs encouraging customers to wear masks.
            • Do not share masks with others.
            • Wash cloth face covering in regular laundry after each use and dry on the high heat setting.

            3. Mask wearing

                  • Temperature screening at the business entrance for temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38°C.
                  • Ask these screening questions for anyone with a high temperature:
                  • Do you have a loss of smell or taste?
                  • Do you have a cough or sore throat?
                  • Do you have muscle aches or shortness of breath?
                  • Have you been diagnosed with Covid 19 or been exposed to anyone diagnosed with Covid 19 in the last two weeks?

                  4. Covid-19 Screening for Customers and Employees

                          Sources:

                          Enagagious (https://engagious.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Back-to-Normal-Full-Release-4.20.pdf)

                          US Travel Association (https://www.ustravel.org/toolkit/covid-19-travel-industry-research)

                          CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html)

                          OSHA Guides to Covid-19 Precautions (https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus)

                          Georgia Institute of Technology – Guidelines for D&C Contractors and Vendors during Covid-19
                          (http://facilities.gatech.edu/constructioncovid)

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