Procedures for Coronavirus Safety and Sanitation UPDATE
COVID-19 IS VERY CONTAGIOUS:
It may have occurred to you that understanding the mechanisms of how disease travels in a chain of infection is essential to preventing its spread.
However, so far, we know little about how COVID-19 spreads. We know it travels through both large and small respiratory droplets and by direct contact and indirect contact. We also know it is incredibly contagious and that many people are asymptomatic carriers. Anyone could potentially be infected with the virus and have no idea they are contagious.
The current recommendation is to maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people. Massage requires close contact with other people, and we have to factor this into our safety and decision-making processes.
What Can We Do To Stay Safe And Keep Others Safe?
I will wear a surgical (or N95 respirator) face mask through the entirety of our session. I request that you bring one and be prepared to wear it, too.
Currently, masks are difficult to obtain. Hopefully, sometime soon, health care professionals will have a surplus, and there will also be more on the market for others.
CLOTHING STORAGE AND CHANGES
You will be provided with a plastic bin to store your clothing and personal items. Please do not lay your wear on any furniture, flat surfaces or equipment. These bins are more easily sanitized and will be sanitized before and after each use.
Typically, massage therapists do not need to be overly worried about their clothing becoming contaminated with pathogens during a session. However, if COVID-19 is circulating in our communities, I must assume that my attire is potentially contaminated, and thus infectious.
Therefore to reduce cross-contamination, I will be changing into a fresh, clean set of clothing between each in-person session I perform.
ACTIVE SANITATION PROCEDURES
Reception Area: While COVID is circulating within our community, the entrance to my office will remain locked. Once you arrive at your appointed time, you may either call or text me to open the door for you.
This way limits potentially contaminating the surfaces of the reception area. Be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering the reception area, too.
Table Warmers and Pads: Rather than remove these luxuries from your massage experience, I will be placing a disposable, water-resistant barrier between them and you. These disposable sheets will make it easier to sanitize my massage table properly and will be replaced after each session.
Linens and Towels: I will handle all cloth products with strict attention. Used linens will be stored in plastic containers for transport before washing in hot soapy water and dried with high heat before preparation for the next use.
The Floor: My office is carpeted. Therefore, I will be vacuuming the floors after each client session. To make sanitation easier, I will also be placing plastic runners alongside the massage table and sanitizing these with appropriate disinfectants. You should remove your shoes upon entering the reception area.
The Massage Table: I will sanitize my massage table, bolsters, and face cradle carefully with an alcohol-based wipe between clients.
Ventilation is Important: Because it is impossible to circulate fresh air into my office, I am setting up a portable Medipure HEPA air filtration unit to run while in session with clients.
Currently, no research that demonstrates that HEPA air filtration reduces the spread of COVID-19. However, during the SARS outbreak, health experts recommended the use of HEPA air filters to reduce SARS transmission in isolation wards. Air filtration can remove dust and cleaning chemicals from the air improving the air quality in my office.
SESSION OPERATIONS & PAYMENT CHANGES
You may have realized that I'll need extra time between sessions to complete these new tasks safely. Therefore, I am eliminating short-term massage appointments and the total number of daily meetings to ensure that clients don't overlap or sit waiting in potentially contaminated areas.
Cancelation Policies: While COVID is present in our community, there will be no penalty for last-minute cancelations. If you should wake up feeling poorly, the last thing I want is for you to arrive at my office sick. Please be considerate of me and my family's health. Stay home. Get well. Then, re-book.
Thirty-Minute Sessions: Offering a 30-minute session doesn't make sense. Therefore, I will be "temporarily" discontinuing 30-minute massages. The time required to spend properly cleaning, sanitizing, and preparing my office and equipment for the next client makes this service unfeasible.
Walk-In Screenings: Please be prepared to have your temperature taken, via a non-contact device, before entering the massage area.
Payment Changes: Virus particles can live on banknotes, checks, credit card surfaces, and touch screens. Therefore, to avoid cross-contamination from using a shared device, I will e-Bill you for the provided services. You can securely pay directly from your computer or smart device using our credit/debit card. If you have a gift certificate or purchased a pre-paid Mega-Massage Package, I will automatically deduct from your account (no additional payment is needed).
Friends or Family of Clients: Sometimes, a child, friend, or family member will accompany a client to a massage session and wait in the reception area reading a book or magazine. While COVID is present in our community, clients are not permitted to have guests join them or wait for them in the reception area. Client guests must wait outside or in their vehicles.
High-Risk Clients: While COVID is present in our community, I must advise any high-risk clients to forgo massage at this time. It is challenging to ensure anyone's health and safety right now, especially people at higher risk for developing severe COVID symptoms.
Talking During Sessions: While I do enjoy our conversations, experts believe that COVID droplets get dispersed when people speak and even breathe – one of the reasons why remaining 6 feet apart and wearing facemasks is essential for physical distancing.
So, while COVID is present in our community, I intend to keep our in-person conversations to a minimum. However, you should still communicate with me about pressure, warmth, and any pain or injury you've experienced, but having a big laugh and a good gossip could put us both at higher risk.
If we must have a lengthy conversation, let's make it by phone, text, or facetime app.
PLEASE TAKE PERSONAL SCREENING RESPONSIBILITY
If you have had any flu-like symptoms, including a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath, or if you have had a fever, or if you have recently been in contact with someone who has flu-like symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 - Please be considerate of me and my family's health. Stay in quarantine until you have recovered entirely (typically 14 days AFTER symptoms have cleared). I will do the same.
Even with the best response and prevention plan, there is no guarantee that we will not acquire COVID-19 or other similar contagions. Therefore, I must stress the following caveat:
By entering my facility or using my services/equipment, you are doing so voluntarily. You are aware and fully agree to accept all known and unknown risks, including the potential risk of exposure to respiratory illnesses such as the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Although I regularly sanitize my facility using enhanced cleaning methods and enforcing social distancing as an office procedure, you understand that you may be exposing yourself to the coronavirus or its symptoms through no fault of my own. Known coronavirus symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia, kidney failure, and may include other symptoms, stroke, or even death (collectively "Symptoms").
You understand and agree that you will be using my service and facility at your own risk. You will not hold me liable for any real or perceived Symptoms of COVID-19 or any other disease, illness, or condition, nor for exacerbating any existing symptoms.
Instead, you fully agree to accept all risks of entering my facility. Risk includes use of any equipment, personal training services, attending classes, receiving massage or other soft-tissue manipulative services, and/or potentially interacting with or exposure to other clients/members.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns what-so-ever, please reach out! I'm here for you!
Be healthy – and keep moving toward a better you,
John Aaron Villarreal
IMPORTANT LINKS & REFERENCES
Products with EPA-Approved Emerging Viral Pathogen Claims that are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses.
CDC Coronavirus “Protect Your Health”
CDC Coronavirus “What You Should Know”
World Health Organization: Advice to the Public
Small Business Association – Special Loans that may be available