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Cleaning Firms: Critical We're Treated 'Essential'

By Youri Kemp

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

Cleaning products and services firms yesterday said their addition to the list of “essential” businesses spared from the lockdown is critical to combat the health risk posed by COVID-19.

Roman Knowles, a Blanco Bleach sales manager, told Tribune Business: “I think that bleach is a necessity at this point to make sure we disinfect all surfaces that might have the virus on it, so that being said I think we are essential to trying to fight this virus.

“We are going to go with what the government says. If they do decide to revoke it, like everybody else we would have to close our doors. But we urge them to consider us as essential, as we are providing quite a lot of cleaning products to make sure that everybody stays safe.

Mr Knowles added: “There has been a spike in business. Everybody, along with the wholesalers and food stores, and anything that can be used in the household, or on different things, have gone up so we have seen a spike in business.

“We are not going to be running out of anything. As long as the port remains open, and we can get the raw materials in, we can make bleach for as long as we need to.”

The government, late on Wednesday night, adjusted its list of businesses exempt from the nationwide lockdown to include suppliers of cleaning products to companies; cleaning services providers; pool maintenance and supplies businesses; and funeral homes and cemeteries.

Cleaning services providers, and pool maintenance and supplies businesses, are being allowed to operate between 9am to 5pm provided the necessary social distancing protocols are maintained. Cleaning chemicals suppliers, such as Blanco, are to operate between 9am to 2pm but not be open to the public.

Robert Lightbourne, R.L Elite Housekeeping’s president, told Tribune Business of the exemption: “I think it was necessary. Me and my business partner, we had a discussion and we were saying that seeing that cleaning and sanitising specifically is one of the ways to prevent the spread of the virus, cleaning companies like myself should be allowed to still operate, particularly in businesses that are under the exemption as the traffic still coming in and out.

“So our services are essential at this time. I am glad that the government made a decision to include cleaning and janitorial companies to be allowed to work at this time, which is necessary.”

Confirming that there has been an increase in demand for his services, Mr Lightbourne added: “I got a call from one or two businesses, but at the same time we are being proactive. We are also reaching out to let businesses know we will be available to do specific sanitising and disinfecting, and cleaning, which is what we always do. So, yes, business has increased, but we are also being proactive and going out there and making businesses aware.”

Geoffrey Eneas, Chlorine Depot & Pool Supply’s managing director, said: “We are quite pleased that we are able to service our customers during this time. We have had a lot of calls from our folks needing their pools taken care of, and we are just happy to be able to help.

Mr Eneas added: “We are practicing social distancing. We do curb side or we deliver to the home. It’s going very smoothly. If folks have a credit card or if they want to send money to our bank account we prefer to do it that way, as we would rather not deal with cash.”

While he had not necessarily seen an increase in demand for his services as a result of being placed on the exempted business list during this lockdown period, Mr Eneas said: “It has just been smooth and even. Our customers are just happy.”

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