How are we coping?

Our local An Post staff continue to deliver during Covid

An Post is an organisation operating on the frontline; with its friendly staff working harder than ever to provide not just an essential service, but their delivery personnel are also keeping customers’ spirits raised – especially those who’re home alone cocooning. I caught up with lovely Post-person Helen Greene, a native of Elphin, who makes deliveries to customers around Tulsk and surrounding areas to find out how, and if, the change in circumstances has affected her daily rounds.

Come hail, rain or shine, you and your colleagues have to deliver the post, but with the latest coronavirus restrictions in place, are you finding your rounds to be busier than ever? Yes, it’s busier, and these days, I find that Mondays are usually a bit busier than other days. That’s probably because people are buying online now more than ever. People are also writing to each other, and An Post launched the free post cards which have proved to be very popular, which is great.

Post-persons like yourself are proving to be a great community support to those along your delivery route, this is especially so in the case of seniors or those who are vulnerable…Yes, I’m on my own in the van all day so it’s so lovely to interact with people, some of them would even have a cup of tea waiting for you that they’d give you across the wall (adhering to the social distancing guidelines at all times). People are always very glad to see you, and while it’s business as usual, I’d be asking any vulnerable customers and seniors who may live a good bit away from family and friends, to pop a little note in their window for me if they need anything. It’s all part and parcel of the service.

When your deliveries are done, how do you relax?  When I get home I go for a walk within the two-metre guideline restrictions, and I go into the garden and enjoy that, and I’m also enjoying the sunshine.

 

Brogan’s Total Health – a pharmacy on the frontline providing essential services during the pandemic

Unlike many shops and services who’ve been forced to temporarily close, pharmacies across Roscommon not only maintain full opening hours, they’re also often extending them when a customer needs an emergency supply of prescribed medication or runs short of vital necessities, etc. With that in mind, I caught up with Pat Brogan of Brogan’s Total Health Pharmacy in Boyle to find out how he’s adapting to the new Covid-19 restrictions.

 

This pandemic has placed a greater dependence on pharmacies, how is your business coping, and what preventative measures have you put in place? We’ve sectioned off areas of the shop to ensure proper interaction with customers. Staff are wearing face shields and masks, gloves and gowns. There are only three people at a time allowed in the shop, and we’ve placed seats outside also (adhering to the two-metre distancing guidelines) for those who have to wait to enter. We’ve got a sign outside the shop advising those who do enter to use the hand sanitiser provided, and we’ve placed stickers on the floor marking out the two-metre distances, etc. In order to maximise flow and minimise contact for everyone who enters, we’ve got one entrance into the shop, and one exit out of the shop.

Are you providing a service for those who are cocooning/are vulnerable/unable to visit the pharmacy? Yes, we are doing a lot of deliveries, and we’re always available in a time of emergency. Our emergency number is 087-3884208, and people can call or text us on that, or download the Total Health App and send us a message there. Doctors can also email us prescriptions at broganstotalhealth.boyle@healthmail.ie and people can also email us here too.

Have you seen an increase in sales of any other products? Yes, people are buying a lot of vitamin C and D and Zinc, gloves, masks, hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes; as well as sales in non-contact thermometers. And there’s been a bit of an increase in sales of hair colour and hair clippers.

You’re very busy; do you get any downtime?  Yes, I do, but I’ve always got a lot of bookwork to do, and I catch up on that. However, for the first time ever I’ve subscribed to Netflix and I can’t believe the choices on offer. Can I say a big thank you to our staff who have been amazing and a big thank you to our customers for adhering to our new social distancing guidelines; they’ve all been very understanding.

 

Staying connected and keeping informed: How Assumpta’s beauty salon is dealing with lockdown!

 A quick scan of my Facebook page and other social media sites has revealed that – once this lockdown has been lifted – a trip to the beauty salon is a priority for most people. With that in mind, I caught up with local beauty therapist Assumpta Golden to find out how shes preparing her Roscommon town salon for what may be a post-quarantine, business boom.

How are you bracing and preparing for the impact?  Well we’ve been closed temporarily since March 13th and I miss my lovely clients but I am doing some online courses, one of which is a Barbicide course. It’s a sanitation awareness course, and while sanitation and hygiene have always been vital in my line of business and I engage in continuous education and I always will, this virus is strange, and we have to prepare the salon in every way we can for a return to business. I always like to keep myself fully informed about all aspects of sanitation and infection control, etc. I’m also doing brushing up on marketing strategies and getting great tips and keeping busy learning new ways to improve my business.

How have you been reassuring clients?  I’m staying connected with clients on social media. I’m giving them advice and guidelines around products to use, etc., in order to help them maintain a good skincare routine. In light of the good weather, I would always advise people to apply sunscreen; it’s possibly the best anti-aging device you can use.

Any tips for readers?  If I could offer one tip it’d be aimed at those working from home on laptops and using mobile phones, etc., to remind them to be aware of the blue high energy visible light (HEV) emitted from these devices. People tend to forget these rays, and my advice is to use a broad spectrum sunscreen if you’re sitting in front of a screen all day.

What are you missing most about your business? Oh I miss the laughs and the connection with my clients, and even though I’m in touch with them on social media, it’s not the same. For example, I’m enjoying baking scones and bread and clients would often very kindly give me new recipes, and I miss that aspect, and look forward to the day when we’re able to open again.

How are you spending your downtime?  I’m not a TV person, so I’m enjoying walking (within the 2km guidelines) and as the weather is so good I’m enjoying our garden and I’m catching up on housework. I do miss seeing my parents who live about 25 minutes’ away, and I stay in touch with them on the phone – but it’s difficult not seeing them. We’re lucky in that my mother-in-law lives next door so we can wave at her through the window.

Are you home-schooling? My three are all practically adults now. I have one doing college exams, one doing Leaving Cert and one doing Junior Cert, but they’re all well able to manage themselves, thank God.

 

Practical pandemic advice

Testing his brain and keeping sane during lockdown, entrepreneur and founder/operator of The Spool Factory and editor of Boyletoday.com, Brian Nerney has some practical pandemic advice for local businesses.

How has the lockdown impacted on your work? The Spool Factory is home to a large number of businesses, organisations and remote workers. As soon as lockdown was announced everything ceased operation. On a normal week over 300 people would pass through our doors, but all is now silent. I am still working here keeping the building in order along with updating my other business Boyletoday.com which is now busier than ever as people go online to see the latest news. Visitor numbers to the website have increased by 43 per cent compared to this time last year.

 

Based on your own experiences, (as a businessman), what advice would you be offering to other enterprises? Businesses who are now preparing an exit plan post Covid-19 have the best chance of survival. Those who are waiting and doing nothing right now will be left behind. Likewise, small businesses need an online presence and retailers who are not selling their goods online should be looking now at this as a matter of urgency. Having a retail business in a small town needs to be complemented by an online shop.

 

How will Boyle look post Covid-19?  We are very lucky here in Boyle that we had secured over €3m in funding for a number of projects pre-crisis. One that is nearing completion is the cycle path from Lough Key Forest Park. In addition, the massive redevelopment of the Royal building is gone to tender with work set to start later this year. We have the funding in place for these projects along with others that are ready to start (or finish) this year, and I believe this will see Boyle bounce back quicker than other towns.

 

How are you dealing with the restrictions personally? I miss the daily hustle and bustle of commercial life. I am an avid cyclist, but I do not go out on the bike at this time, preferring instead to use the indoor trainer three times per week. I am also very lucky that a portion of Lough Key Forest Park is within a two-kilometre walking distance of my home, so my wife and I get out for walks every other day. I also love gardening and the good weather has allowed me to spend plenty of time there.

 

Are you catching up on any Netflix shows? I don’t watch much TV and have limited it to the 9 pm News. In general, I am actually enjoying the time and the fact that my three adult children, who are normally based in Dublin, are at home for the duration of the crisis. It is doubtful we would ever have all been together for a few weeks in a row, and it is really enjoyable – especially the weekend when we can have family dinners, a few beers and a good chat. We have also commenced a Saturday night Zoom quiz with extended family in New York, New Zealand and Dublin, which is great craic!