About a week ago, I had an Oelwein resident reach out to me to ask if the City was tracking what area businesses have implemented and are currently doing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and I could only answer what my business and what the City was doing.

After thinking about my answer and quite honestly realizing I didn’t have a good answer for her, I reached out to Deb Howard at OCAD to help put together some answers on how our area businesses are coping with the change in standard operating practices. Deb put out the call to chamber members and here are some of the results we heard so far:

American Family Insurance: The office has continued to maintain regular business hours throughout the pandemic. For safety measures, the door is locked and only clients that actually need to come in the office are allowed to enter the building. Their clients can still reach out by phone and email.

They do sanitize the chairs, doors, etc. – basically anything touched by a client after they leave and then again at night before they leave for the day. They are not requiring masks, however, there is a sign on the door stating if clients are not feeling well, to give them a call vs. coming in.

B&L Body Repair

B&L has been open during the whole pandemic. Upon arrival, if customers aren’t comfortable coming in, they will come outside to them. They have been picking up and dropping off vehicles, as well. If a client enters the office, upon leaving, they are disinfecting counter and door knobs.

Hand sanitizer is available on the counter for all patrons.

Upon arrival of scheduled time, the client’s vehicle is wiped down for protection of their employees and once a vehicle is repaired, it is again sanitized.

Bertch Cabinets

Though business has dropped dramatically, Bertch has continued to work through the pandemic, with a couple weeks of shutdown timed during the “peak” period. The company took steps to keep its associates safe, including the following:

Train and remind associates of proper protocols during the pandemic

Do as much physical distancing as possible

Provide masks to all associates

Routinely wipe down high touch areas

Keep appropriate spacing in break rooms and time clock areas

Advise associates who are ill or have any symptoms to stay at home

CITY Laundry

Early on during the COVID-19 outbreak, federal, state, and local governments designated CITY Laundry as an “essential supplier to critical infrastructure.”

While the situation is constantly evolving, all of the staff are working diligently to ensure other essential businesses like food processing, agriculture, or public utilities can continue their services. All employees and other people entering the plant are required to wear masks or face shields at all times.

City Laundry staff is encouraged to wash hands multiple times during the day and are required to do so before returning to work after all breaks. The janitorial staff is working diligently to clean and sanitize the plant multiple times a day to make sure employees and customers are safe.

The facility has undergone rigorous testing over the past few months to make sure high safety and cleanliness standards are being upheld. The company’s commitment to holding everyone accountable during the cleaning process is an important part of bringing peace of mind to customers during the pandemic.

“It’s a big part of the process,” Colin Wetlaufer, City Laundry’s president said. “Being able to tell an employee you don’t have to worry about it because it’s processed correctly and there are no bacteria or viruses living on it. I think it’s very important to build trust and confidence and we are proud to provide it. We want our employees to know they work in a safe and clean environment and we are doing everything we can to make sure everyone feels safe.”

Farmer’s Daughters Quilts

The shop has been operating since March 19 at a very limited level — by appointment and online sales only. The majority of the time, only one staff member has been in the facility at a time and before leaving that staff sanitizes frequent touch points.

On Monday, May 18, they are planning to open and are extremely excited to be back open to public! There will be signs posted indicating that no one should come in if they are feeling ill and will be recommending to customers to wear masks, but will not require it. The same goes for the staff.

Signs will also be posted that customers should practice social distancing — staying 6 feet away from others. If there are too many customers and social distancing is not possible, they will be asking customers to wait in the classroom until the store has room for them.

The staff will be sanitizing frequent touch points after each customer leaves. The store is also installing a large hand sanitizer for our customers and staff.

Grand Theater

At this time, The Grand is still closed and has been since March 17. With the recent announcement by the Governor, we will reach out to The Grand again for a new update.

Leo’s/Generations

Leo’s has been doing a deep clean this last week and will be opening up Generations for Friday and Saturday at 4 p.m. They will be continuing carry out through the downstairs entrance (Leo’s) to help those who don’t want to be around anyone, feeling safe and more comfortable. They will be seating customers to keep them 6 feet apart with no more than 6 people at a table. Weather permitting, they will have some seating on the deck.

Employees will be sanitizing tables, chairs, menus and condiments after each use. Bathrooms and door handles will be cleaned once an hour. All wait staff will be wearing masks.

Unfortunately, there will be a limited menu due to shortages and pricing.

Mercy One Gift Shop

For right now the gift shop at the hospital is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 to 2. Hours may change in June, but there are no volunteers lined up as of yet. For those wondering, yes you have to have your temperature checked and they give you a mask if you come to the hospital

Pizza Ranch

Pizza Ranch has been operating every day. They are offering carry out, deliveries (and offer contactless deliveries) and pickups as an option. The drivers wear gloves and mask for each delivery while expanding the delivery area to not only Oelwein, but the towns of Hazleton, Fairbank and Maynard. Currently, they are not sure how long deliveries to these communities will continue.

They have opened the dining room to the public on Monday, May 18, starting with dine in orders and salad bar for lunch on Monday and then the buffet Monday night from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. To start the first week, they will be offering buffet Monday-Thursday 4:30-7:30 p.m. and then 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday — Sunday. Depending on how things go will determine what they will do or plan for the following week.

Pizza Ranch has completely rearranged the dining room, which used to seat 159 people to only seating 70. They have removed all booths and only have chairs at this time, to make for easier disinfecting and sanitizing after each guest.

They will be serving the buffet cafeteria style, with plexi-glass between all guests and the food. Crew will be filling plates and then placing them on a table for the guests to retrieve and will be serving drinks and ice cream as well and no glasses will be refilled – customers will get a new glass every time.

The crew serving buffet and drinks will be wearing gloves and masks, changing the gloves when they are dirty or after no more than an hour (unless changing tasks as that will require them to change gloves as well.)

A member of the crew will be guiding customers to this new set up, as well as cleaning the door handle after each guest enters the building. Our restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized every 30 mins. There is plexi-glass at the register and guests will swipe their own cards now.

In the dining room, as always, staff will be bussing the tables — crew members will be wearing gloves and a mask. When guests are done they will be sanitizing and then disinfecting with a peroxide cleaner, which will remain for 2 minutes on the surface before we wipe chairs and tables completely off.

Guests will enter through the south doors and exit through the north doors, so guests do not cross paths going in and out. Upon entering there will be a sanitizer station they can use, as well as gloves and masks available for their use if they choose.

The crew at Pizza Ranch looks forward to providing a safe and healthy environment for not only our crew but our guests as well.

Veridian Credit Union

At Veridian Credit Union, the branch located in Oelwein continues to offer drive-up service; Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. While the branch lobby is closed, essential appointments that require branch lobby access, such as loan closings that cannot be done electronically and notary services, can be scheduled at 800-235-3228. The credit union strongly encourages the use of online banking or their mobile app to deposit checks, transfer money, pay bills and more.

Veridian is following guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health. Veridian also activated their pandemic response plan, and are taking a variety of other measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus:

Non-essential events and meetings have been cancelled, postponed or adjusted to take place as a virtual meeting.

Employees who work from a variety of offices as part of their regular schedule have been reassigned to work from a single office.

To ensure the continuity of services, Veridian equipped as many employees as possible to work remotely.

Staff is sanitizing high-traffic surfaces regularly. Employees are asked to take their temperature and pre-screen themselves before coming to work and those who cannot maintain 6-feet social distancing during the majority of their shifts are required to wear a mask or face covering.

New policies for the partial reopening of branch lobbies will focus on limiting capacity and maintaining space between employees, members and guests:

Teller stations may operate at half-capacity to provide the space of an empty station between staffed stations.

Lines to wait for teller service will be marked with designated spots at six-foot intervals.

Members are encouraged to schedule an appointment for all other services, and those waiting for anything other than teller service will be asked to wait in their vehicle.

Refreshment stations and seated waiting areas will be closed.

Clear shields will be installed in spaces where interactions are likely to require a proximity of less than six feet, and employees will continue to sanitize high-traffic surfaces regularly.

Updates on Veridian’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic are available at www.veridiancu.org/coronavirus.

Hopefully, hearing what some of our local businesses are doing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 helps to alleviate any concerns you have on what area businesses are doing. I am sure many of will see changes when you are out shopping and taking care of your personal business.

While we can only follow guidelines, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the spread of COVID-19 is to use common sense when out in public – maintain the 6-foot distance where possible, avoid needlessly touching surfaces and your face and where possible, wear a mask – not only for your health, but the health of others in the community.

We all look forward to a return to more normal times. Until then, we need to remain diligent and use common sense steps to stay safe.

I want to thank Deb Howard for her help in reaching out to business members and want to thank those who responded to get this information out there! Thanks, and stay safe!

Oelwein Mayor Brett DeVore