Face masks, hand gels, tests, plastic screens the coronavirus has created a whole new landscape for businesses on the island. We look at how some of them are dealing with it, and how you can also prepare.

The Covid-19 crisis and the resulting lockdown changed all of our lives recently, but now that we’ve left the State of Alarm and are looking towards the future, several local businesses are adapting quickly. They call it the “new normality”, and it involves strange behaviour such as having to put a face mask on before you enter a bank, security guards pointing “pistols” at your head to check your temperature, and endless pairs of latex gloves.

Testing, testing

Testing is likely to become a more important aspect of all our lives, and private tests are increasing in popularity, especially within businesses. We’re still a long way away from Covid-free certificates or immunity passports, but testing can offer peace of mind and valuable information.

Dr Andrea Eikenroth at the Dr. Mager Clinic tells us “We offer quick antibody tests, ELISA antibody tests that are analysed in Barcelona and can also conduct PCR tests. All the tests are improving in reliability and we are legally obliged to supply the results of all tests – positive or negative – to the Canarian health service, so that the necessary protocols can be observed in the case of a positive result.”

Asked about the usefulness of tests, Dr Eikenroth points out that PCR tests are only relevant at the time they’re taken, and that someone could easily be infected after a negative PCR result. However, he believes that the results of antibody tests could be very useful. “They tell whether a person has been exposed to the virus and thus whether they may have acquired immunity. It’s going to be increasingly important for any visitors to bring health information and previous test results with them when they come on holiday,” said Dr. Eikenroth.

Over the counter

Chemists and parafarmacias have been the first place many people have gone for assistance, and the role of chemists shops in the distribution of protective gear and even help with domestic abuse has been considerable

Susanne at the Parafarmacia in Puerto Calero told us “The main thing we’ve noticed is the change in the type of customers. We used to get mostly tourists, but, of course, they’re not here, so we’re seeing more locals, and locals don’t buy much sun cream. We sell both kinds of masks – a little dearer than in registered chemists because we don’t receive the state grant, and we’re also selling a lot of hand sanitiser. The most important items we sell are vitamin supplements and herbal remedies that boost the immune system – vitamin D and B, turmeric, honey. A reinforced immune system is the best protection.”

Safe and green

Discarded masks and gloves are already a considerable ecological hazard, and a depressing sight on an island that’s done so much to reduce plastic waste.

Diana Goncalvez at BioMeco in San Bartolome is one of the few businesses that are facing up to the problem. “Although there are paper-based gloves that are biodegradable, supplies are impossible to get hold of. As a result, we don’t insist on gloves in the shop – a medical adviser has told us that hand sanitiser is sufficient to avoid infection.” The hand-gel is provided by Lanzarote business Lanzaloe, and is also being used in local hospitals. It’s available in bottles, but you can also refill your container at the shop.

Diana has also sought out cotton-based face masks from Tenerife that are good for 40 washes. “They’re available in white and black, “ she says “but a lot of people think those colours are a little boring, so we’ve been working on more attractive masks with San Bartolomé fashion designer Oswaldo Machín (see photo left) which also allows us to support local, quality businesses.”