When Santrovelo returns to indoor operations for the winter, there will be a few changes to make sure that the activities are safe from the virus. In the summer of 2020, we shifted our operations outside to work in open air, allowing us to still offer a place where the community can work on their own bikes with the help of volunteer mechanics in a safe manner. Our return to activities at the time were contingent on being in the open air.
We fortunately had the space to go outside and still carry on what Santrovelo does in a limited way, using appointments to stagger clients and offering more 1-on-1 time to each person. Many community bike shops had to close during that time and still remain closed so we understand our role in being a resource for the public.
This year, as the evenings become cooler and darker, we decided to return to the shop and work indoors. We’ll be starting off with at least one open day per week in the usual 5:15 to 7:15pm slot with 2 volunteers on shift and with 2 clients. (In pre-pandemic times this would have been 2 to 3 volunteers and up to 6 clients for a total of 10 people all in a room that is 7 metres by 5 metres.)
The work of repairing bikes is inherently close in nature, especially in this setting, where there is a lot of demonstration and working together. And a typical session can last up to 2 hours. No other type of work at Santropol Roulant is done in such close proximity and for so long.
Although the role of the volunteer mechanic is to demonstrate and guide at a distance, we know from practice that typically both volunteer mechanic and client do work together on different areas of the bike simultaneously. Therefore, the risk of spreading the virus in a short range is possible.
With this reality, we had to make sure everyone stays safe during these sessions, so we decided that running the HEPA ventilation system at max will be required, everyone will need to be masked and we would ask for a proof-of-vaccination so that if ever, someone to catch the virus, their outcome would be fairly good.
When we operated outdoors, we had some of the highest public health measures to prevent the transmission of the virus and that will still be true when we go inside. For those reasons, we decided that proof-of-vaccination will be required for both volunteers and clients to be inside.
Our volunteers who offer their time should not be put at risk while trying to help their community and likewise for our clients, they shouldn’t have to worry about the worse outcomes of COVID when coming to do simple repairs.
All these measures help make it possible to continue our activities in a safe manner. With that said, we are still available to help community members who are not and cannot be vaccinated against the virus, upon request we will offer video consultations, or a drop off service or we can try to help outside the shop and at a distance.