Safely Managing Customers for U-Pick, Farm Stands and other Direct Retail Farm Sales During COVID-19: A quick reference guide to available health and regulatory guidelines as of July 2020
Prepared by Oregon Agritourism Partnership (OAP)
Overview: OAP’s objective is to provide our partners some of the highlights of the most recently published best practices and regulations we believe are the most important for our farm loop partners. Our intent is to summarize information for a timely read, but it is not meant to replace original sourced materials or regulations from national, state, regional and local resources. The commentary is based on what has been recently observed at some of our partners and is intended to inform and not in any way diminish your own professional expertise and experience. We found it impossible to avoid duplication of resources when we separated into focus areas.
Pre-arrival customer awareness and reasonable expectations One of the common misconceptions of new customers is that you are not subject to the regulations and guidelines of a brick and mortar retail/grocery store. Most people are very willing to follow rules and instructions but often will opt for forgiveness vs. permission, especially when a Customer Service Employee (CSE) is helping another customer. A friendly “welcome” sign at your foot entrance is a quick way to introduce customers to your rules and guidelines for safe and compliant customer service. PLEASE START HERE is a clear beginning with a close of THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT DURING THIS TIME. It can be one or two landscape 8 ½ x 11 pages (overall 11 x 17) that you can easily update on a computer printer as changes occur.
Masks / Face Coverings It is reasonable to expect that customers are aware of newest mask requirements in both indoor and outdoor areas. Since you do not have control over customers in wait lines or in parking areas, it is reasonable to expect all customers, excluding small children, to be wear masks while on site. You may want to place a temporary sign at your entrance near your limited liability sign that you expect: all visitors to be wearing masks at all times for maximum safety precautions. You may lose a few regular customers but will gain new ones who embrace your demonstrated concern for their safety. The Oregon Health Authority’s Statewide Mask, Face Shield, Face Covering Guidance is an important file with additional links within it.
On-site parking We have observed that some customers think they must also social distance their vehicles. There isn’t a good answer, but on unpaved surfaces where you can’t mark spaces, you may suggest, LIMITED PARKING – PLEASE PARK GARAGE STYLE. OAP would certainly appreciate your feedback on how you manage ‘rural’ parking.
Customer service employees (CSE) training Here are two ‘Handling COVID-19’ single-page documents provided by the Western Regional Center to Enhance food Safety (WRC): Included are Best practices, Communicating with Customers, Cleaning and Disinfection
Communicating with U-Pick customers A challenge for U-pick for row crops is assigning rows and discouraging row hopping. Attached are photos of instructional cards from Morning Shade Farms which began U-pick in early June.
Signage and foot traffic flow Below are simple signs the Oregon Department of Agriculture has compiled that are easy for you to print out and effectively communicate the importance of face coverings:
Hand washing and toilet facilities Hand sanitizer only is effective if hands are free from dirt/grime. Make sure to have your usual hand washing signs at hand washing stations as well as COVID-19 specific related ones. One example of this is the High Speed Hand washing exercise poster. More information on it and a printable poster can be found here.
Managing families with small children Early indications are that families are more diligent with their management of small children during this pandemic. At the end of the season, this is one area that we would appreciate your best practices/feedback to share for next season. At this time, children 5 years of age and older are required to wear a face covering at public indoor spaces and outdoors where 6 feet social distancing can not be maintained.
Cleaning and disinfection It is important for you and your staff to have a clear plan about where your disinfecting efforts should be focused and how often they should be disinfected. Think about frequently touched items on your farm: shopping carts or baskets, doors and handles, scales, U-pick containers, counters, point of purchase equipment, bathrooms, etc. Having a written checklist of these areas with how often they are to be disinfected may be helpful for you and staff to reference.
Having a hard time trying to figure out what needs to be on your disinfecting list? Check out the checklist below for frequently touched surfaces:
Risk Management: Best Practices for Agribusiness Here is a repeat of the link offered under mask wearing and other guidelines.
We are emphasizing the ADA rule that you cannot ask what the exemption is and also possible steps to accommodate the person. Please see more information here.
Sales transactions and packaging Some key points to consider:
- Provide hand sanitizer at the front of the stand and near the cash box.
- Use signs to remind people to use sanitizer before shopping, before paying and after leaving.
- Ask customers to only touch items that they intend to purchase.
- Cloth face coverings should be encouraged for customer use, based on local guidance.
If you have found additional resources that are helpful please email Dan Hoynacki, acing OAP Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org in order that we can update this reference guide.