I know I’m not alone when I say that as a wife, mother and business owner, these last 14 weeks have been hard. Every time I look in the mirror I can see more grey hairs appearing and that’s not just because I haven’t been able to see a hairdresser for the last 3 months!
Me – Post COVID Pandemic
But in all honesty I think the last 2 weeks have been the hardest to watch and be a part of. As a small business the prospect of re-opening almost seems scarier than being closed for 12 weeks, which is not something I thought I’d ever say.
When we had to close our doors back in March at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, we had accepted it would be for around 3 months, but what we really failed to appreciate or perhaps could never know, was that at the end of those 3 months we wouldn’t be throwing the doors open and getting right back to it, what we hadn’t anticipated was that although we’re back, we still don’t know what our new normal will be and when if ever our old normal will return.
The last few weeks have been filled with scary questions : “Where on earth can we get the PPE we need? Can we afford the PPE we need? Where can we get someone to Fit Test these masks? What if we buy these masks and then we all fail the fit test? Can we open, work at a reduced capacity because of the need for surgery downtime between procedures and still afford to pay our staff? Are we allowed to do the procedures our patients need? What happens when our loan holidays finish? What if we bring all our staff back and then patients don’t come? How do we organise the staff into bubbles so that if one team becomes ill the other team can still work? What do we do about staff that need to shield? How many more of our staff are going to get pregnant before we re-open?!!“
It’s been all-consuming and really tough at times, it’s the first time in 15 years of marriage and 10 years of business partnership that I’ve ever seen Keith truly stressed (me I stress over everything so I’m just doing what’s usual for me!) and I know from social media and talking to friends that he’s not the only dental practice or small business owner that’s felt like this.
Yesterday I went for a walk with Chloe our youngest daughter. The night before I’d noticed on Facebook that one of the cafes in our village was reopening for take-away and they were asking for people to come along to buy a coffee or ice cream to support them. Walking down the High Street I was aware that it was busier than I’ve seen it in the last 3 months, that shops were starting to open and there was almost the familiar hustle and bustle that used to be the norm. We went to the café for a take-away ice cream and it was clear that although they were open they had a new normal too. The entrance had been re-arranged and all the tables where people usually sit were vacant. There were virus screens between us and the staff, who were all wearing visors. Hand gel was readily available and the staff wore gloves as they made our ice creams.
I’ve also been following a small clothes shop local to us on Facebook and one local to the practice on Instagram over the last few months and it’s great to see them now opening again –pictures of two metre distancing stickers on the floor, visors being worn and regular posts on social media encouraging people back in.
I know that behind the scenes of all of these businesses, just like ours, there’s been many stressful hours spent at the kitchen table worrying about finances, working out how they’re going to open in a way that’s safe for their customers, how they’re going to do right by their staff and wondering when and if things will ever get back to normal. I also know that just because they’re back open the stresses haven’t gone away. However, what it does hopefully mean is that they’ve done it, they’ve taken that big step back towards normality and by doing that they’re not only helping themselves, they’re helping everyone in the country find their way back to normal life again.
So can I ask you to think of all the small businesses you know and do everything you can to support them, they’re taking a leap of faith and doing everything they can to help get the country back up and running. Oh and when we’re back to seeing patients for routine care in a couple of weeks please do come and see us, we want to take care of you and we all miss your smiles.