Since mid-March when COVID-19 restrictions kicked-in, local businesses have been searching for the best ways to clean, distance, and keep their patrons and employees safe. Depending on the type of business involved, that hasn’t always been busy.
Kristen Keltner, event and program manager at Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, said the business improvement district is doing everything it can to help merchants in OB implement and maintain proper sanitation and health protocols.
“OBMA receives updates from the County of San Diego that we pass along to our members on a regular basis,” Keltner said. “The OBMA website, OceanBeachSanDiego.com, has a members resources tab on our homepage, which we update on a regular basis.”
The OBMA website now also has an Outdoor Dining in Ocean Beach guide. “The guide lets the community know what restaurants and breweries are offering take out, patio dining, pedestrian plazas in the street and/or a sidewalk café,” said Keltner.
"Ocean Beach offers up a ton of outdoor dining options. Some restaurants are taking their menu out on the street literally with pedestrian plazas, while others are utilizing existing patios and/or creating sidewalk cafes,” Keltner said.
Other health information is available on the county website at sandiegocounty.gov.
One business, in particular, Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market, a cooperative grocer and deli at 4765 Voltaire St., has stood out from the rest in going the extra mile in modeling health protocols.
Early on, the cooperative was closed for an entire hour mid-day to sanitize against COVID. But general manager Jim Kase said that practice has been discontinued in favor of implementing numerous other health measures.
“The idea was to close for an hour to sanitize and restock shelving because most of our products came in early in the morning,” said Kase. “But we found we didn’t really need a lot of restocking in the middle of the day. So we moved our sanitation protocols to all day, every day. Just one hour in the middle of the day wasn’t good enough.”
So Kase said the cooperative opted to sanitize everything as thoroughly as possible throughout the store right down to “every keypad used between every customer, and wiping down and sanitizing every cart and every basket. We spray them with a sanitizer the county recommends that air dries more effectively,”
Kase added the store also changed its hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with the first hour reserved for the disabled and for seniors age 65 and over. There are also strict limitations on the number of people allowed in the store.
“We were letting 15 people in, which had gone up to 20 but went back to 15 after COVID spiked,” Kase said.
The coop general manager said the upstairs deli is open for take-out only, adding the second-floor bathroom is “sanitized at least hourly throughout the day.”
Yet another health protocol is also in place.
“People can’t bring reused containers or bags into the store,” Kase said. “They’re welcome to bring their own bags, but we keep them outside the front door with monitors. They can fill them from their baskets once they get out of the store.”
Of course, masks are required at all times covering both noses and mouths in the store, said Kase, who added there also is a protocol for those few claiming they can’t wear masks for medical reasons.
“We require them to wear a face shield instead that does not restrict your breathing,” he said. “Our number one priority at Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market is to protect the 60 or 70 employees we have, and the safety of our customers.”
To protect its employees, and consumers since COVID struck in March, Point Loma Shelter Island Drug at 1105 Rosecrans St. in Point Loma Village has employed a strict policy of face masks and gloves on all employees at all times, as well as requiring hand washing and sanitizing of all counters and any surfaces touched hourly such as telephones, registers, etc.
Every patient at the drug store is screened at the entrance with hands disinfected before entering the pharmacy. There has been a maximum of two patients allowed at a time in the pharmacy, which has also been offering free home deliveries with drive-thru pickup encouraged. The business also encourages a three-month supply of maintenance drugs, as well as having installed sneeze guards at all counters to protect employees and patients.