Coronavirus (COVID-19) Has Stopped the Courts But Does It Need to Stop Your Office?
To answer that question, having a better understanding of what Coronavirus is, and how it is spread may aid you in your decision.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 will not progress to MERS or SARS but will have its own characteristics, such as fever, dry cough, fatigue and body aches.
The transmission from person to person is through coughing and sneezing.
The droplets containing the virus can remain on surfaces even after the ill person is no longer near. This is what is known as droplet/contact contamination.
What Measures Can You Adapt to Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Colleagues?
- By washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly;
- By sneezing and cough into your sleeve;
- By avoiding touching your eye, nose or mouth without first cleaning your hands;
- By avoiding contact with people who are sick; and
- By staying at home if you are sick.
What Measures Can You Adapt to Maintain Your Business and Contact With Your Clients?
Promote the use of technology for current client contact, for example, email, phone or platforms such as Skype, iMessenger, video conferencing.
Have documents scanned and emailed to your office, opposed to clients bring them into the office.
If clients need to come to the office, then speak to them beforehand and ask the following questions:
I. Do they have a fever, AND, within the last 14-days;
II. Travelled to an impacted area; or
III. Close contact with a confirmed, or probable confirmed case of COVID-19; or
IV. Close contact with a person with an acute respiratory illness who has been to an impacted area.
If they answer yes to any of these questions, they should not attend the office, and look for alternative ways to communicate with your client. It is also good practice to have hand sanitizer dispenser readily available to clients entering the office, and a sign instructing them to use it before entering the office. Additionally, wiping down hard surfaces between clients is also recommended. This is a practice you should promote all-year-round, in my opinion, as it promotes good hand hygiene practices and provides confidence with clients, they are entering into a clean conscience environment.
For those you who practice in medical matters and have clients with pre-existing medical problems, such as immune suppression, cardiac history or respiratory diseases, please take all measures for those clients not to come into the office. These clients are at higher risk, and unnecessary travel to and from home to your office should not be promoted. Again, I would advocate using technology as opposed to face-to-face meetings.
What Measures Can You Adapt to Support Office Staff on Self-Isolation
If one of your office colleagues is returning from or, been in close contact with a symptomatic person from an affected area, then support a self-isolation period of 14-days and have them set-up from working from home.
Our office, for example, provides associates with server access from home, as well as, phone call forwarding to their cell phone. The use of a mobile app scanner can also be useful with a remote working environment at no additional cost to the end-user.
To all, keep well, maintain and support social distancing of 2 meters, and hopefully, we will see each other in the courts again soon.