The COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, affecting people not only on a personal level but also making drastic changes in professional and business endeavors. At the peak of the pandemic in early 2020, the news was flooded with businesses closing down around the world, employees losing their jobs, and the economic standing of nations plummeting.
Despite these, however, individuals showed their resilience by making the most out of community quarantines and lockdowns. Nearing the end of last year, we witnessed startups rise. This influx of small businesses during the pandemic was wittingly coined as “quaranterpreneurship,” a nod to business owners who have begun their endeavors while on quarantine.
Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy — especially for small brick-and-mortar stores. A lot of establishments that opened before the onslaught of COVID-19 had to shut down their operations in compliance with local health and safety regulations. And as vaccination rates soar and stores are getting the go-signal to reopen, they are faced with another challenge — adapting to changes in the new normal.
Of course, small business owners are resourceful and creative, which gave rise to many strategies to keep their employees and customers safe, reduce contact, and contribute to curbing the spread of the virus. We honor and recognize those efforts in this article.
Contactless and Automated Systems
Brick and mortar stores were forced to transition from conducting business physically to adopting a more digital approach during the pandemic. Now, retailers are putting their products online to compete in the e-commerce sphere. Restaurants, on the other hand, are using applications and food delivery software to take orders and send them to customers — without the latter having to visit restaurant premises.
A prerequisite to physical stores and restaurants being able to open amid COVID-19 is to fully vaccinate all members of their staff. Depending on state guidelines, most establishments are able to operate at either full, 50%, or 30% capacity as long as the workers reporting on-site are vaccinated.
Not only that, but customers, especially in food establishments, should be vaccinated to dine in. As a safety check, small business owners are employing additional staff to guard their doors and review vaccine cards.
Getting back to work comes with some minor changes to comply with local health and safety measures. Among them is mask-wearing, where employees of brick and mortar establishments are required to keep their masks on throughout the entirety of their shifts — even if they are vaccinated. Small business owners report that they have no problem complying with mask mandates as it helps their staff feel safe and secure.
With the threat of the virus looming, brick and mortar stores have the additional responsibility of keeping their stores clean and virus-free. Diverting from regular cleaning hours, which usually takes place before opening and after closing, retail shops and restaurants now need to sanitize their premises frequently.
Businesses Thrive Amid Trying Times
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on businesses trying to make a living — especially for small startups that have yet to perfect their footing in a competitive entrepreneurial market. But thanks to resilience, increased availability of vaccines, relaxed health and safety protocols, and various other government efforts, small businesses are getting a taste of normalcy — but with minor adjustments to suit the new normal.