There are a lot of reports and wild speculation flying around about the Coronavirus (aka COVID-19), so we’ve condensed the official information from the HSE, WHO, ISME and IBEC about how this might affect Irish businesses – especially those in the hair and beauty sector. The official consensus is that there is no need to panic – but it is time to be cautious and prepared.
From a business perspective, ISME has issued some sound advice about dealing with the situation:
- Consult within your staff, customers and suppliers. If you have Asian suppliers, you need to talk to them immediately about their production and export plans.
- Understand what are the ‘high level’ impacts an outbreak could have on your business, and prioritise the most impactful ones.
- Develop a business continuity plan, brief your staff on that plan, and test it in exercises. Maximise the use of remote and flexible working if possible.
- Consider where you would be able to access replacements if your own workforce was to be significantly impacted.
- Discuss contingencies with your accountant and your bank should there be significant impacts on your suppliers or your customers.
- With respect to businesses in contact with the general public – especially those in the hair and beauty industry – the HSE has released this document:
- The HSE also advise putting up these official COVID-19 information posters: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/COVID-19-Public-Health-Advice-Poster.pdf
- The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has also released this handy checklist for businesses who want to plan ahead with regard to coronavirus:
On a more positive note, Ibec says it doesn’t expect the coronavirus to have a major impact on the Irish economy.
“We’ll look back on this period in 12 months’ time and I don’t think we’ll notice in any material way that the virus disrupted the economy. Right now, it is having an impact on some businesses, there is no doubt about that. We see it in some of the supply chain issues.”said Ibec’s Fergal O’Brien.
For those businesses who import goods from China and other affected areas, the HSE has some good news: It advises that you cannot get the virus from packages or beauty items that have come from China or elsewhere. There is no evidence that animals or animal products legally imported into the EU are a health risk.
Case Study: Salons in Singapore
As of today (March 4th) Singapore has 110 confirmed cases. For this reason, many hair salons in Singapore have established new rules within the salon to promote hygiene and do their part to fight COVID-19. These include:
- Encouraging customers to use hand sanitizers upon entrance and exit (that is if you can get your hands on the sanitizers!)
- More thorough cleaning and disinfection of chairs and tables.
- More frequent disinfection of scissors and tools.
- Mandatory hand-washing for all customers and employees before and after each appointment.
- Giving out complimentary masks to customers (again, if you can get a hold of them! But the HSE has said that the masks aren’t hugely useful.)
- Encouraging customers to postpone appointment if they feel ill.
Protecting against the Coronavirus
According to the HSE, the coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. You could get the virus if you come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing, or touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on.
Measures to protect yourself and those in your business from contracting the virus include washing your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.
The HSE has also said the risk of getting coronavirus in Ireland is low, and should a case arise, will contact anyone who has been in contact with an infected person.
Click the link below to view a HSE video on how staff working in healthcare can prevent the spread of infection:
According to the HSE, it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms of coronavirus to appear. These symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
- Fever (high temperature)
However, you do not need to follow any advice in relation to coronavirus if you have:
- not been to a country or region with a spread of coronavirus
- not been in contact with a person who has coronavirus
- not been to a healthcare facility where patients with coronavirus were treated