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Coronavirus: Toronto businesses serve up creative ways to safely welcome back customers

Coronavirus: Toronto businesses serve up creative ways to safely welcome back customers
WATCH ABOVE: Being under a lockdown has led to lots of creativity with people learning new skills and hobbies. Now businesses are benefiting from it with the launch of new tools ready to serve their customers in an innovative way as things open up. Miranda Anthistle reports.

In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, businesses are finding creative ways to safely serve their customers.

Longtime Leaside restaurant Olde Yorke Fish & Chips has set up not one, but two separate slides to deliver orders safer and faster.

“It’s a thrill for everyone. The staff get a giggle how happy the customers are, and for the customers it gives them something to smile about,” said owner Olivia Feather.

It was becoming difficult to pass the takeout bags safely from the window to the parking lot, so Feather and her sister turned the potato and beer ramps into slides for the food orders. The setup has gone viral, gaining attention from as far away as Europe. For the regulars in Toronto, it’s also been a hit.

Read more: Anxious about a business’ COVID-19 safety standards? This website gives you the rundown

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Customer Faiq Ahmad said he appreciates the business making sure to practice physical distancing: “Keeping that six feet distance, it’s amazing.”

It can be a challenge to maintain the recommended two metres of space, especially at businesses whose services have resumed indoors and it was this worry that led to the creation of LocalVisits by the Toronto-based company OneLocal.

Maggie McIntyre, the company’s director of operations, explained the new app aims to eliminate line-ups and crowded waiting rooms.

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“LocalVisits allows businesses to keep their employees and customers safe during appointments or visits by handling the check-in, the waiting room and payment process digitally,” she said.

The tool utilizes a virtual waitlist for customers who are notified by a text message when they can enter the business. Employees manage the whole visit from start to finish through an interactive dashboard, minimizing interactions between staff and customers.

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“It’s a game-changer,” said Dr. Diana Metyas whose dental practice implemented LocalVisits.

“This app holds us accountable for the timelines we’re running on. We schedule the adequate amount of time and as soon as we’re prepared to bring patients in we let them know and it just streamlines the whole process from beginning to end.”

Metyas said the app will be a permanent part of the practice going forward.

At Red Rocket Coffee on Wellesley Street East, there’s another innovative tool being used to implement COVID-19 safety measures.

READ MORE: Toronto, Peel Region enter stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan

“At the beginning lockdown, it was a mad dash. It was a scramble to prepare our shop to make sure we were respecting the rules so when the StepNPull became available it was just one extra gift that made it easier for us to prepare,” said owner Billy Dertilis.

The StepNPull is a foot-operated door opener that allows people to enter and exit places without touching the door.

Usamah Quick, founder of Quick Innovations Canada, has installed the Canadian-made device in dozens of places across Ontario, including CFB Trenton and the CN Tower.

READ MORE: Cancellation of CNE, festivals leaves vendors struggling to make ends meet

“In these times of heightened awareness around cross-contamination, the StepNPull allows people to not have to touch a door handle and use hand sanitizer right after — it’s just a simple solution,” said Quick.

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And it’s simple solutions that are addressing the need for contactless service which is the new normal.

“There are many, many ways to do the same thing that you’re doing. During the pandemic, it has generated a lot of creativity in people’s mindsets and it’s really interesting to see how that flows,” said Feather, who like Metyas, has learned valuable lessons from being creative during COVID-19.