Business offering masks, hand sanitizer to customers; local hospitals giving out tips to reopen safely

Retail businesses looking at ways to safely reopen; local hospitals to help out

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Nearly every business owner across Louisiana is figuring out how to reopen safely when they can.

“I’ve always said that I don’t really sell anything that’s necessary,” Lacie Herndon said. She’s the owner of Maison Greige on Old Scenic Highway in Zachary. It’s more of an experience that Herndon is selling.

“The services I offer are strictly just, I guess for retail therapy. It does provide an escape for some women," she said.

And now she's back.

“It’s definitely been challenging,” Herndon said. “You’re used to making a certain amount and you kind of budget. You have plans for that certain amount you’re used to making. When that goes to zero or close to it, that’s a big hit.”

Like thousands of others, the boutique has been closed for weeks, but this owner has found a way to stay relevant by offering home delivery and curbside pickup.

She even started to sell hand sanitizer. It’s a new item and is a sign of the changing times.

“They have kind of transitioned from making soaps and things and gone right into the hand sanitizer game," she said.

Good hand hygiene is important as Herndon and her staff work to make a full time comeback the first week of May. That’s also why there’s a sanitizing station, complete with sanitizer and masks when you walk into the store.

“All they have to do is take a little bit, grab a mask if they don’t already have one, then they’re good to go,” Herndon explained.

Herndon is following state guidelines, cutting back on the number of people allowed in the store; workers even wear masks. Local hospitals also recommend those exact changes so customers feel safe as they shop.

CEO of Ochsner Health System Warner Thomas says he understands employers are challenged with reopening safely.

“We understand now the question is: how do you do this safely? How do you do this in away that we don’t create another spike in the number of cases?” he said.

Employers now have direct access to tool kits from local hospitals like Ochsner that will guide them on the best way to reopen.

“This will provide them education signage, various materials, but also teams that can come on site, help access what they need. We can also bring at team on site that can be temperature checkers," said Thomas.

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is launching something similar the first week of May. They can even provide test kits and treatment options.

“Whether you’re a business of 50 employees or 5,000, I think we have your needs covered,” explained Jimmy Craven, president of OLOL Physician Group. Craven says over 420 providers are available to employers through telehealth.

Owners should implement a screening process for employees. That’s what Connie DeLeo, an infection preventionist at Baton Rouge General, suggests.

“The employee needs to feel comfortable to call the employer and say, ‘Hey, I’m having issues and think I feel sick,’” DeLeo said.

The experts also say having customers pay online is a good way to keep a safe distance between workers and patrons. DeLeo also suggests sanitizing frequently touched surfaces like counters in a workspace.

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