The coronavirus has well and truly infiltrated Europe, and as vendors we come into contact with a huge amount of people making us amongst the highest risk.
The coronavirus has currently caused over 3000 deaths* so far, Due to the quick advance of the disease, and the dangers involved for those high risk, it has caught both WHO and media attention. Whilst very dangerous, there are simple steps we can take to dramatically reduce the risk to us and our clients.
What is the virus?
The coronavirus is from a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome. These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and people. In this particular instance, the virus came from unsafe meat at a local market in Wuhan, China. It’s worth noting several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans, and this is not a new disease.
Signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The recommended incubation period is 14 days, with symptoms appearing at about 5-6 days.
What should we do?
Well, the most obvious thing is to maintain high levels of hygiene with yourself and your kit. Not just for Coronavirus, take these steps to ensure even the common cold does not pass your brush.
- Do NOT paint anyone displaying any cold/flu symptoms. This should be standard anyway, but I know sometimes we let it slip, as a painter I know how hard it is to say no to kiddies. If you’re PPF you might want to consider a sign at the beginning of your line stating “we cannot paint any child displaying cold symptoms, including snotty noses”. If on a contract booking, add it to your terms and conditions. Do not waiver from it. As bad as you might feel saying no, you’d feel a lot worse if someone got sick due to you. We have no way of knowing where the person in our chair has been on holidays, or who they’ve been in contact with. So play safe, not sorry.
It is worth noting that cases of coronavirus have been reported to be asymptomatic (not displaying symptoms whilst carrying the disease), but for the most part, you can tell when someone is sick in all influenza and coronavirus based cases.
- Sterilise your brushes after each event, and wash your brushes between each face. This again is a practice we should be doing anyway. I know when you get home from a long day all you want to do is nap, but clean your brushes before you sit down and don’t let them fester. The quicker you sterilise equipment, the less time any virus has to grow.
- One sponge per person. I know this continues to be a contentious subject amongst our community, but it is, without doubt, the most hygienic method of sponging. You can reduce the usage by having colours on both sides of the sponge, but don’t share them between people. Paint the nose and mouth area last.
- Keep a pack of tissues and hand sanitiser in your kit. If you need to sneeze remember: Catch it, Bin it, Destroy it. Failing a tissue, sneezing and coughing into the crook of your arm is the safest place.
- Clean your kit regularly. I know.. I know… kits get messy. But there is a difference between messy and dirty. Keep your paints away from sticky fingers, change your water regularly and sanitise your hands often.
- Sanitise your hands between kids. Okay, I know I just said that, but I see it missed so often! Whilst the parent is getting that child in the chair (you shouldn’t be, you’re not insured to lift the child), quickly spritz your hands with hand sanitiser. Get into the habit of doing it every time, and it soon becomes second nature.
- Remember that the antibacterial properties in your face paints are not designed to ward off infections, and not to be used as a fail safe. They’re predominantly designed to stop mould and bacteria growing on the paints, not the skin it’s painting.
- Be prepared for cancellations. So many times I read the words “I was really relying on that gig….” but we can’t. In our industry, it is important to remember that plans vary quickly and that our wage will always be flexible and subject to change.
Perhaps negotiate with the venues a contract and payback scheme rather than a standard PPF. We have done this to “high risk” festivals before, and it protects us from cancellations, whilst they can claim the cost back on their festival insurance***
Hopefully, most of my readers will look at this and go, well duh! But we have been asked a few times what impact we think this will have and I have to say, right now, we cannot possibly know. We have to assume that personal and kit hygiene will be sufficient, and continue as normal.
If you think we’ve missed something obvious, please let us know!
*at time of writing.
** data provided by cdc.gov.
*** depending on their insurance.