On March 15th, 2020, my photography business had to close, like so many others, to slow down the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19.
When the Irish government released the ‘Roadmap for reopening society and business’, they also issued a specific ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have also published guidance & checklists on how to produce a ‘Business COVID-19 Response Plan’.
Covid-19 Safety Precautions
While the complete Response Plan is available to you on request, I wanted you to get access to the most important information in a way that could be easily digested.
My priority as a business owner is safety. Your family’s safety. My family’s safety. And the safety of others. While the virus has been suppressed in Ireland since March, we know it could make a comeback.
“We still need to make sure that we adhere to the rules of the new way of living and working so that we maintain the gains we have made, and continue to suppress the spread of the virus.” (Return to Work Safely Protocol)
It’s not easy! All I want is to get back photographing families & businesses. The key is to do it without compromising safety.
Covid-19 Policy Statement
I, Johanna King, am committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment to all my clients. To ensure that, I have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan.
- Continue to monitor my COVID-19 response and amend this plan.
- Stay up-to-date with information issued by the HSE and Gov.ie on Public Health advice.
- Share information with my clients on the symptoms of COVID-19, essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements.
- Keep a contact log to help with contact tracing.
- Develop a procedure to be followed in the event of myself showing symptoms of COVID-19 during a photo session or in-person meeting.
- Provide information for clients to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during a photo session or in-person meeting.
- Intensify cleaning of equipment in line with government advice.
As a sole-trader, I am solely responsible for the implementation of this plan which will help contain the spread of the virus.
Signed: JOHANNA KING
Date: June 29th, 2020
Competence and training requirements
In the foreseeable future, I will stay up-to-date with the latest information, advice and guidelines from the HSE and Gov.ie guidelines. I will also keep educating myself on topics such as:
- Signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- How COVID-19 is spread.
- Physical distancing recommendations.
- Cleaning routines and hygiene controls (including respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette and handwashing).
- Use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and medical equipment (e.g. thermometers, disposable gloves, masks, and disinfectants) as relevant.
- What to do if a client or myself becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19.
- When a client or myself have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Rubbish disposal, including tissues.
- Travel restrictions.
- Restricted movement advice.
Symptoms, ‘Screening Form’ & Rescheduling
This must be one of the most important precautions and one to take seriously.
We are not used to cancelling nice & fun things because we have a small cough or one of our children has a mild fever. We will likely struggle with it and resent the change of plans (me included).
However, it is important that we can all relax on the day of the session, feeling as safe as possible.
What does it mean for you?
This is why I will ask you to fill out a “Screening form” before each in-person meeting with me (photo session or viewing & ordering appointment). This self-declaration will include the following questions:
- Do you (or anyone in your household) have symptoms of cough, fever, high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, breathlessness or flu like symptoms now or in the past 14 days?
- Have you (or anyone in your household) been diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the last 14 days?
- Are you (or anyone in your household) a close contact of a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days (i.e. less than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes accumulative in 1 day)?
- Have you (or anyone in your household) been advised by a doctor to self-isolate at this time?
- Have you (or anyone in your household) been advised by a doctor to cocoon at this time?
On review of the form, I may ask you to reschedule to a suitable future date, free of charge.
If you are still going ahead with an event while having symptoms, or are entirely cancelling the event, you can choose to use your deposit towards an alternative photo session within 12 months.
In this case, however, the deposit is non-refundable.
What about me?
I will constantly self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (the new HSE Covid-19 App is a good reminder to do it daily).
If I am travelling outside of the country, I will not schedule any sessions for 14 days or more after my return. If there is an emergency reason behind the travel, I will inform all my already booked clients to reschedule.
If I develop symptoms, I will contact you immediately to reschedule to 14 days or more. If I were to test positive for Covid-19, I would keep you informed and not return to work unless deemed fit by my GP.
If your session is time-sensitive and cannot be rescheduled I will have a list of reliable backup photographers who will have a style and level of quality similar to me. I will do my best to find a replacement, even at short notice. If finding a backup is unfortunately not possible, you can choose to either get a refund of your deposit or use it towards a new session within 12 months.
Important: It’s worth noting that I suffer from Hay Fever and my symptoms are mostly kept in-check with antihistamines.
Contact Logging & Tracing
Contact tracing is a vital part of slowing the spread of the virus.
The purpose of contact tracing is to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community. It identifies people who were in close contact with someone who has coronavirus. More info about contact tracing here: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/testing/contact-tracing.html
What does it mean for you?
- I have created a contact log for clients & personal contacts (myself and my family) to facilitate potential contact tracing by the HSE. It will contain your First Name, Phone Number and the circumstances/location of our contact.
- While we may not be considered “close contacts” by the definition of the HSE (spending more than 15 minutes of face-to-face contact within 2 metres of an infected person in any setting), for contact tracing purposes I will consider all indoor sessions clients as close contact, and I recommend you do the same.
- I have installed the HSE Covid-19 Tracking App and recommend all my clients to do it as well. The app will help the existing contact tracing operation by:
- reducing the time it takes to alert you if you’re a close contact
- alerting contacts that you might have forgotten you met up with
- enabling them to contact people who are unknown to each other
The more people that download and use the app, the more it will help contact tracing.
More info about the app here: https://covidtracker.gov.ie/
Precautions around and during your photo session
Should a member of your household be at-risk, or should you want an at-risk family member to attend the session, strict physical distancing (2m) will be used for the entire duration.
I also recommend a short session (1h max) and an outdoor location.
Transport to sessions/jobs
- My personal car’s interior touchpoints will be sanitised after every trip outside of the home (my husband or I).
- Sanitiser products and wipes will be kept in the car.
- Public Transport will not be used by myself or my family until further notice. Private car, cycling or walking will be used.
Having clean hands is the best way to stop the spread of harmful germs.
What does this mean for you?
- I would recommend carrying a hand sanitiser with you when out & about during your photo session.
- At home, remember to wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub regularly and in particular:
- after coughing and sneezing,
- before and after eating,
- before and after preparing food,
- when arriving and leaving the home,
- when hands are dirty,
- after toilet use.
- Wash children’s hands frequently.
- Avoid touching their eyes, mouth, or nose.
How about me?
- I will wash and thoroughly dry my hands on arrival and during the session after touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, etc.
- I will avoid touching doorknobs, toilet flush handles, and faucets after washing my hands. I will bring paper towels to dry my hands when on-location.
- I will have alcohol-based (60% minimum) sanitiser in my car and camera bag at all times.
- I will keep my nails short and clean at all times.
Physical Contact & Distancing
- While this is going to be difficult, especially with my repeat clients, there will be a no handshake / no hugging policy for the foreseeable future.
- While physical contact & distancing between adults will be easy to avoid, in the situation of a child being too small to understand (or forgetting, like my daughter), parents will need to gently supervise and remind.
- Strict physical distancing will be possible for part or all of the shoot, depending on the location and the type of shoot. We will discuss your circumstances ahead of booking.
- I will maintain a distance of 2 meters from everyone as much as possible, indoor and outdoor. When I need to get closer to get close-ups or details, I will maintain a distance of 1 meter and minimise such time.
- Photos taken from less than 1 meter will be avoided, but if necessary, I will be using face covering.
Viewing & Ordering Appointment
When visiting your home during the session, I will do a risk assessment of the location to see if we can carry out the viewing & ordering appointment in your home with strict physical distancing. When it isn’t safe to do it on-location while complying with physical distancing, said meetings will be done online through video conference.
- I own multiple compliant fabric face masks, which will be washed at 60ºC. I will favour physical distancing to wearing a mask but will discuss with each client ahead of their sessions, and make a decision based on the location (size of the room, age of the children).
- I have educated myself on the proper use of face masks, including washing my hands before and after touching the mask and carrying a plastic bag to dispose of the mask after use.
I will sanitise my camera & lenses before & after every job/session with appropriate products.
For home sessions, I suggest you clean/sanitise high touchpoints such as door handles, toilet flush handles and faucets before I arrive and after I leave.
Home Sessions – What else?
What I will do for you
- I will wear fresh clothes for a session and leave my shoes outside. I will walk in my socks around the house. I will wash or sanitise my hands every time after touching my shoes.
- It is common that I need to use the bathroom when arriving or before leaving your home. When using the bathroom, I will use a paper towel to close the taps, open the door handle after washing my hands, before throwing it away.
- I will bring my own travel cup, water bottle and snacks to avoid sharing such items.
What you can do for me
- I suggest you keep your house well ventilated while I am on-site, with open windows, weather permitting.
- When I first arrive, I will ask you where the best place to store my belongings is. It needs to be easily accessible in case I need to get equipment, but out of the way so it doesn’t show in the pictures. It should be a space that is easy for you to clean afterwards.
- If I bring product samples to your home, we will allocate a few minutes to look at them at the start of the session. I suggest you do touch them and look through them, but wash your hands immediately after.
- A small bin should be made available to me to throw away tissues and paper towels without touching handles. If such a bin is not available, I will bring a small bin bag in my camera bag.
- Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. It is recommended that the areas I came in contact with should be cleaned with household detergent followed by a disinfectant as soon as is practicably possible. To pay special attention to frequently touched sites including door handles, taps of washbasins, toilet handles. Once cleaning and disinfection have been completed and all surfaces are completely dry, the area can be put back into use.
Please, let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the above.